SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land

By Patrick Campbell

Released Friday September 26th, 2014 - Young Turks

Three years after his groundbreaking debut, electronic music producerAaron Jerome has returned with his second full-length album asSBTRKT. A mix of pop, post-dubstep, and rock influenced tracks,Wonder Where We Land features a mix of tracks with long time collaborator Sampha, as well as guest spots from Raury, Jessie Ware, Ezra Koenig, and Warpaint to name a few.

Day 1 builds as a brief introduction before the album launches with the laid-back title track, featuring vocals from Sampha. This sets the theme for the album quickly; best described as "chill" the album flows through songs, each filled with layers of production and mesmerising melodies. For most songs, the vocals are simply something on top of the music, not the focal point. The trademark drum samples and experimental looping of various keyboard melodies of SBTRKT are evident on all the tracks, especially Look Away - a collaboration with Chairlift's Caroline Polachek. This album is SBTRKT, but more polished, and more solid than his first release.

Jerome clearly shows how much he has developed as an artist over the past few years with this record, the production is clean and precise but not to a level where it makes the listener uncomfortable. The album is a confident step forward for Jerome, into a new wave of experimentation with various styles of music. The collaboration with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend is a great example, released as the first single, New Dorp. New York is mostly based around a throbbing baseline and layered percussion. The nonsensical lyrics take the forefront of the song, Koenig's voice layered with many effects leaves the haunting chorus stuck in your head for a long time after the song is over.

The few self worked instrumental tracks break apart the various sections of the album, and really give the listener a feel of relaxation. There is no doubt this is a summer album, released just in time for road trips and late nights outside. The second half adds extensively to this vibe, the Jessie Ware track Problem (Solved) is filled with warm vocals from the songstress atop a continuous bouncing piano line. This song along with following track If It Happens is the highlight of the album, both taking aside large amounts of the heavy layered production to create beautifully simple songs.

Closing track Voices In My Head features the vocal talents of A$AP Ferg, as well as the collective instrumental and vocal talents of Warpaint. A slow, haunting end to the album, it is a prime example of the ability Jerome has to manipulate the listener and cause a reaction to a song. The effects on the vocals link it back to the haunting sounds of New Dorp. New York, and finishes the album on an intense, but still pleasant note.

The stigma surrounding sophomore albums can sometimes be hard to overcome but SBTRKT has managed to do just that, and has released a brilliant, experimental, and creative body of work that will be on repeat throughout summer.

4 / 5