Future Grooves: SBTRKT

While new bands are finding the benefits of anonymity, DJs and producers have obscured their identities for years. Whether using aliases to better match their identity to their music (Burial and Zomby) or wearing masks while performing (countless electro gimmicks), electronic music listeners are used to a little mystery in the mix.

SBTRKT uses an alias and a mask, and while that isn’t new and exciting, his music is. This week sees the release of his eponymous debut on the trend-setting Young Turks label, but the SBTRKT story goes back further than the new album, or even the string of EPs, singles, and remixes released over the last year or so. SBTRKT is the artist formerly known as Aaron Jerome, who toiled in nu jazz during the aughts.

As that scene died down, he assumed his new identity, releasing dubstep remixes of Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place” (“Right Place”) and Goldie’s “Inner City Life” (“Timeless”) in late 2009. Subsequent releases include the four-song 2020 EP, an instrumental set of broken beats and swirling basslines. Collaborations with soul singers Sampha and Jessie Ware revealed a soulful, UK funky influence that permeates last year’s Step In Shadows.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/nervous.mp3″ text=”SBTRKT feat. Jessie Ware – Nervous” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/colonise.mp3″ text=”SBTRKT – Colonise” dl=0]

That influence is on full display on SBTRKT, which weaves through the landscape of future garage, post-dubstep, and bass music, presenting the strongest attempt at electronic-pop crossover since Magnetic Man‘s album. In that same vein, SBTRKT again teams up with Sampha and Jessie Ware (along with Roses Gabor), using vocalists to humanize his beats. Lead single “Wildfire,” a collaboration with Little Dragon, finds Yukimi’s voice perfectly suited for the rubbery wobble.

From the sub-bass groove of “Right Thing to Do” to the funky edge of “Pharoahs,” SBTRKT presents a full picture of electronic dance music in 2011. SBTRKT, masked or not, won’t be anonymous for long.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/rightthing.mp3″ text=”SBTRKT feat. Jessie Ware and Sampha – Right Thing to Do” dl=0]

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/pharoahs.mp3″ text=”SBTRKT feat. Roses Gabor – Pharoahs” dl=0]

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