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The Kickback – “SBTRKT”

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, November 7, 2013

New music has been so very hard to come by. Even after a two-week hiatus I have awaited plenty of big releases only to have my anticipation come crashing down around me. Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” was sloppy, Eminem’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2″ was dull with the exception of “Rap God.”

No one is really helping me out. What am I supposed to review? Celine Dion? 

So I had to dig back through the archives in search of a hidden gem. Something you have never heard before and something that could sound as if it was released yesterday. At least I’m being transparent and now giving you water from a dry well. 

My search took all of about 30 seconds, as an African tribal mask popped up at me when searching my iTunes library working its way toward 10,000 songs. It was SBTRKT (pronounced “subtract”) and I knew my search was complete. 

SBTRKT’s self-titled debut album came out in 2011, yet it still comes across as being the music of the future. It’s club, trance, pop and feel-good all in one release and you won’t be able to help yourself as you start to head nod, wiggle in your seat and tap your feet. 

SBTRKT is the DJ name of Aaron Jerome, a London disc jockey and producer who has found the magic touch that keeps him from being too poppy like David Guetta or too abstract like deadmau5. 

From the start, you hear the post-dubstep, electro tendencies, yet its often accompanied by the same voice. That soothing voice is a British artist by the name of Sampha, who delivers a haunting performance on the project’s second to last and second track, “Hold On” and “Never Never.” If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he was featured on two songs off Drake’s latest album: “Nothing Was the Same.”

How did Drake ever co-sign a low-key, unknown British soul singer? Well just wait until the next song, the apparent highlight of the album: “Wildfire” featuring Little Dragon. Catchy and worthy of big, loud speakers, the warped beat of Wildfire blends smoothly with the subtle screeches of Little Dragon’s lead singer. Drake eventually heard the song, and dropped a remix to it that set SBTRKT on its way and Sampha into the spotlight. 

But Sampha’s best accompaniment comes on “Trials of the Past,” where his melodic tone blends well with the post-modern synthesizers and mellow backbeat. Following the track in the heart of the lineup, we find “Right Thing to Do,” which will surely feature one of the more hypnotizing beats you have ever heard. 

But the real hidden gem of this hidden gem of an album is the eighth song, “Pharaohs.” The epitome of what SBTRKT does right, it will have you bouncing less than 15 seconds into the song. This will be on your workout/dance/party/go out/Feve playlist, so you’re welcome. 

And sorry for the old pick, but you’ll forgive me after one listen, I’m sure.