SBTRKT Young Turks*****
The man in the colourful mask is Aaron Jerome, a London-based producer who flirted with the limelight on the nu-jazz, drum’n’bass and broken beat scenes when he worked with Nitin Sawhney and released an album for BBE ( Time to Rearrange) under his own name in 2008. But that’s very much the past, while the present is all about SBTRKT.
This delirious, ambitious and audacious album is electronic music that wears its influences very lightly, as sublime, futuristic, forward-thinking swings and swerves take you around dubstep, bass, jazz, house and r’n’b stops. Jerome’s perfectly pitched pop sensibility keeps SBTRKTon point as it ducks and dives with great energy and imagination. This may be an album coming from the underground, but Jerome has bigger fish to fry.
The vocalists help his case enormously. Dubstep warrior Sampha is Jerome’s regular onstage foil, and his delicate, aching voice is the ideal counterpoint for the sheen and shine of SBTRKT’s bleeps on a track such as Hold On. When it’s Jessie Ware and Roses Gabor on the microphone (on Right Thing to Doand Pharoahsrespectively), you have the same thumping emotional heft to bring out the soul in the machines. It gets even better when Jerome brings one-time Gorillaz collaborators Yukimi Nagano and Little Dragon into the picture for the glorious Wildfire.
But it all comes back to Jerome. He’s the wizard behind the scenes (or the mask) pulling the strings and crafting the sounds.
Given the smarts on display when it comes to topping and tailing spectacular, extravagant, technicolour 23rd-century pop music, it can only be a matter of time before SBTRKT moves onto another pitch. On the basis of this album, Aaron Jerome already knows what the future sounds like. See sbtrkt.com