In an effort to let his music speak for itself, London-based producer Aaron Jerome performs under the moniker SBTRKT (pronounced “subtract”). The self-taught electronic music visionary also neglects to promote his music, trusting that the music will reach an audience even in anonymity.
SBTRKT’s unorthodox strategy has proved effective, as his second studio album Wonder Where We Land has quickly garnered international praise following its Sept. 29 British release. The album is streaming at sbtrkt.com for a United States audience awaiting its Oct. 7 American release date.
Boasting an extensive list of features, Wonder Where We Land follows an approach popular with electronic music producers in recent years. Instrumental tracks are limited, with a variety of collaborators stepping in to share vocal duties.
What sets SBTRKT’s sophomore effort as a cut above albums by many of his contemporaries is an attention to variation. No two tracks on the album sound the same. Perhaps sacrificing a bit of theme was a ploy successful in avoiding a stale listening experience.
SBTRKT achieves a winning formula, knowing when to be taken seriously, when to be fun, and when to tie it all together.
Fourth track “Higher” featuring 17-year-old Atlanta narrative rapper Raury is a thoughtful storytelling piece with impact.
Track eleven, “Problem Solved”, is the fun, bubbly collaboration with singing starlet Jessie Ware one would expect: a futuristic pop divulge with more stylistic bravado than any Ariana Grande track currently dominating radio airplay.
Crooning R&B heavyweight Sampha provides Wonder Where We Land with consistency, sprinkled in six times throughout the track list. Most notable is the album’s most heartfelt track, a piano-laden ballad, “If It Happens” that follows Ware’s appearance.
The standard version of the album is capped by an A$AP Ferg feature that sounds like his best Kid Cudi impression. Somehow, it stylistically works in a way that lends a formidable contribution to the sound of Wonder Where We Land.
A deluxe edition of the album is highlighted by maniacal sing-song nonsense riddled by rapper Boogie entitled “Spaced Out” with effortless arrogance.
Overall, an intensive approach by SBTRKT will bring commercial success to a formidable album in Wonder Where We Land. The right formula of earnest songwriting, stylistic hip-hop bravado, and piecemeal instrumental tracks make for a listen that at no point lessens the listener’s attention span.
Despite his attempt at anonymity, SBTRKT’s sophomore effort finds him vying for further mainstream exposure.