SBTRKT’s self-titled debut album is quite a turn from what we saw on his previous release which was an EP with solely instrumental compositions. Let’s see, what the mystery man offers us when supported by singers from the underground.
Heatwave – Despite all my expectations, this song has no relation whatsoever to the super-hit single released by ’60’s Motown girl-group The Supremes. Instead, it’s a lush, bass-heavy quasi-instrumental opening track with intriguing atmospheres and gradually intensifying beats and some sort of a male choir. This is an important beginning after all.
Hold On – Lovely arrangement which can be best characterised by the name ‘gamelan-house’. Solid 4/4 foundations, a thumping bassline in the background (under the floor if you wish). And of course some truly soulful vocals by Sampha, the most frequently featured collaborator on the album.
Wildfire – The first single off the album featuring the woman, the Swede, the singer-songwriter without whom no cool album can be made, Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon. Featuring great 808 foundations, a massively catchy synth riff both in the verses and in the bridges. Vocals get and radiate additional melody in the choruses with some really humble and creatively used vocoder help. Not a very flamboyant arrangement and the song’s atmosphere is somewhat claustrophobic thanks to the minimalist structure.
Sanctuary – A really relaxing, yet emphasized rhythm section in this song, bringing some seashore nostalgia (this is the song which should be played at beach parties) with huge bass dives and playful synthesizers in the upper register. Singers: Jessie Ware with beautiful vocal improvisations and Sampha again, with his ever-so-soulful voice. This song could be most easily described if we were to say that it’s half lounge, half dubstep and a pinch of soul. (No pun intended.)
Trials of the Past – The song most comparable to contemporary dubstep (Burial’s album ‘Untrue’ most-probably will come to your mind as well). Really vacant mood, nostalgic (moreover, longing) feelings in this one, interpreted and strengthened by Sampha. This is the most pop-oriented and most easily accessible on the album.
Right Thing To Do – If I told you that this song’s music is sort of a mirror image to ‘Devil’s Nightmare’ by Oxide & Neutrino (made famous by the soundtrack to the 2001 movie ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’, if you don’t remember – no surprises – here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlkEw6jGem4 ), you’d press skip. However, here, the production is much more focused and streamlined and the lyrics are not flanged apart. Instead, they are probably the most catchy on the album. And, of course, provided by Jessie Ware. A hidden and rather present surprise on the album.
Something Goes Right and Pharaohs are the album’s uptempo electro-pop axis, with vocals provided by Sampha and Jessie Ware, respectively. Great driving grooves, exciting melodies and sunny mood.
Ready Set Loop – beginning with some chords in tune with the ’90s’ house movement, the song continues to turn into an interesting mixture of hip-hop and drum and bass sounds.
Never Never – organic sound bowl-like sounds and Sampha return for a melancholic, typical last-but-one song backed by realistic drum beats. Another pop-oriented song with a twist.
Go Bang – Odd sequences and drum loops give a unique aesthetic to the closing song which lets us off with clever, upifting melodies and some tribal drums in the last segment.
(image was taken from turntablekitchen.com)