MENTAL ARITHEMETIC! SBTRKT’s dope debut is the smartest album of the year
When SBTRKT first emerged in 2009, the parallels with Burial were impossible to avoid. For SBTRKT’s early singles like ‘2020’ or his reworking of Goldie’s ‘Timeless’ had the same mournful qualities as Burial’s phantom dubstep — inner-city blues reflected in a dusty, fractured electronic mirror — whilst SBTRKT’s tribal mask initially made Aaron Jerome’s identity almost as much of a mystery as Will Bevan’s was at first.
Yet this year’s ‘SBTRKT’ album put paid to such comparisons. Sure, it was similarly the product of someone immersed in UK bass culture’s deepest catacombs, and would also join Burial’s ‘Untrue’ in reaping wide acclaim well beyond the scene that spawned it. But whereas Burial’s albums were impressionistic instrumental affairs not exactly bursting with tunes you could hum, ‘SBTRKT’ confirmed its creator as not just a stellar producer, but also an equally accomplished songwriter. Calling on vocal collaborators including London soulboy Sampha, Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano and underground diva-in-demand Jessie Ware, SBTRKT crafted an album of 21st century torch songs arguably as emotion-drenched and era-defining as Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’ 20 years ago.
“My aim was to create an album that fitted together all the strands of electronic music and song structures that I love,” he explains. “I wanted to show emotion, but not stray too far from the electronic sound canvas, and I also wanted to create an album with its own narrative — a beginning, a middle and an end.”
Describing his Best Of British Award for ‘Best Album’ as “…the icing on the cake”, SBTRKT is now planning to collaborate with more artists to continue “…that link between the more forward-thinking production of electronic music and the artform of songwriting”.
“There’ll be no overproduced maximised dance smashes,” he continues. “I love records where the simplicity in production glues it all together.”
The very thing that keeps ‘SBTRKT’ stuck in your mind.
|<<< Best Dance Remix||Best Compilation >>>|
The Other Nominees
|Rustie ‘Glass Swords’ (Warp)||Zomby ‘Dedication’ (4ad)||LV ‘Routes’ (Keysound)||Marcus Intalex ‘21’ (Soul:R)|