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10/14 Album Review: SBTRKT


The latest from Britain's tribal mask-wearing DJ, SBTRKT (Subtract), is nothing short of immense. It's everything you'd ever want to hear from an album--hip hop, trance, R&B, afro beat, and soul, all served with a sultry side of dub; yet it still manages to remain anything but overdone. Up until Wonder Where We Will Land dropped, SBTRKT was known mostly for his original instrumental tracks and his high-profile remixes. Now, we encounter an album that perhaps trumps his entire past productions.By Basement DJ: Sasha

The record features a vastly diverse range of singing styles against arrangements that throb together smoothly, and the sense of balance and variety that SBTRKT creates is consistent throughout the entire album. Wonder Where We Will Land, is a dreamscape masterpiece of oozing baselines, a plethora of featured artists, and a rare sound that simply haunts. The whole post-dub album is loaded with gooey tracks such as "Higher," with its swelling bass, Raury's rolling rhymes, and a bloom of background vocals in the chorus. This is also true of sharp tracks such as "NEW DORP. NEW YORK.," with its future-pop sound, brisk drums, and groovy vocals from Vampire Weekend front man Ezra Koening.

SBTRKT has proven mastery over his craft, as well as shown that he can work with just about anyone and still put out some of the most developed and evolved music production out there. The features lineup includes Ezra Koenig, Raury, Sampha, Jessie Ware, Warpaint, and A$AP Ferg. This collaboration remains cohesive because SBTRKT plays on each individual artist's unique musical strengths and sound, from alert raps to slower, spookier tracks. Even with all of these intensely different featured artists, SBTRKT values tight and purposeful arrangements over showy, overdone tracks. The focus of the entire album is solely on the chemistry of the songs with their respective vocalists, with the beats being just another part of that equation.

Wonder Where We Land by SBTRKT is ultimately a spooktakular and highly enjoyable future-pop record. He is good. Damn good. And this album graciously bestows us fifteen heaping tracks (twenty-one on the deluxe version) of pure, simple, vividly memorable bliss, where the only regret by the end of the album is that it isn't any longer. The good news is that when you push the repeat button for the fifth time, you will only be up in the sky again and kept guessing where exactly you're going to land.

FOCUS TRACKS: NEW DORP. NEW YORK, Wonder Where We'll Land, Lantern, Higher, Voices in my Head, Spaced out, Temporary View

RELATED ARTISTS: XX, James Blake, Frank Ocean, Little Dragon, Basement Jaxx

You can hear this album and more indie jams during The Basement on KUMD 103.3 FM Duluth Public Radio - student run radio every night after 9 o'clock! Stream online at KUMD.org. The Basement is Duluth Underground Radio.