Jake’s Jams: SBTRKT

Every other Thursday check out Jake’s Jams to see an album from any era, genre, or artist recommended by Jake Standerfer


UK future garage artist SBTRKT wishes not to be associated with the music he creates. Instead, he stands aside and lets the music do the talking for him.

In his self-titled 2011 album, SBTRKT utilizes the most poppy aspects of the then-emerging trend of UK electro beats to create a jammable set of songs that exist largely on their own. SBTRKT vibes almost as a collection of singles from the artist. Yet it still holds enough cohesion to listen all the way through with meaning. Each track holds a different take on production made with bounding synths, light high hats, and vocals provided by featured singers.

The most distinguishable aspect the album holds is its unique, poppy jammability. For example, “Wildfire” snags the ear with a funky fluctuation of synthesizer that almost tickles. This accompanied with soft but sassy vocals by Little Dragon synthesizes an experience of funky, head-bobbing, feet-shuffling moldability. Listening to the album, whether it be in car, class, at home or with friends, the music beckons to be danced to.

Flute-like synths and steady laser beam blasts on “Sanctuary” provide more of an island-focused, bubble-infused beat. Additionally, the vocals of Sampha and Jessie Ware keep the song centered. A more vanilla, piano-esque melody on “Something Goes Right” along with fast-tempo breakbeats funnel the song into upbeat danceability. Sampha’s vocals also guide the narrative of the song on a cheerful track. A clock-like, undulating beat on “Hold On” prompts a low key bob of the head, and “Trials of the Past” relies on the emerging UK dubstep trend with electric synergy.

What can be said about SBTRKT is that reliability is guaranteed. Unlike many projects of the genre, the album holds distinct singles and jams, but never falls short from track to track. Whether it be from the featured vocal artists, or SBTRKT’s production, the tracks consistently appeal, without the annoyance possible in such a restricted, repetitive genre. The competitive UK electronic scene almost certainly gained a new competitor in 2011.