Was 2013 a big year for electronic music? Was it ever. Disclosure’s debut album Settle rocked the UK charts to everyone’s delight, house legend MK re-emerged from the depths of nineties Chicago-clad 4/4 beats to blur the line between credible underground dance music and chart success and now an innumerable amount of artists such as Julio Bashmore, Route 94 and Duke Dumont look to take 2014 buy storm. While Daft Punk bumped bolts with Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams for last year’s smash hit Get Lucky, 2013 looked to be the definitive year for the anonymous artist. Yet there was one mask missing from the stage- the booth and the charts.
In 2011, SBTRKT’s debut self-titled album left us both dancing and gasping. In a delicate synergy of intricate beat patterns, wobbles and chart-ready choruses, the combinative tempos of tracks such as ‘Hold On’ and ‘Right Thing to Do’ caused listeners to bring their hearts – along with their Nikes – to the dance-floor. With an emotional haul of striking vocals from the likes of Sampha (who can now be heard on anything Drake fancies cooking up) and Jessie Ware, the album is a mixture of shuffling 2-step , 808s and heartbreak.
Though frequently engaged at house parties and, at times, masterfully utilised at clubs, it was only a matter of time until the appeal of SBTRKT’s melodic, feet-friendly sound made its way to the fields. Reading and Leeds 2012 saw Aaron Jerome – the man behind the mask – tapping electronics and banging drums side-by-side with Sampha, swooning between keyboards and vocals to provide an intense and euphoric blend of sounds that left you barefoot and blurry-eyed. And there was cowbell. Oh boy was there cowbell.
Looking to the future, fans have been teased with a new interactive website made with long term collaborator A Hidden Place, the designer responsible for the SBTRKT mask, alongside PARTY, a Japanese creative agency. Featuring all-new music, each pair of songs triggers the website to change colour hypnotically, speculating that there lies deeper meaning behind the six instrumental tracks. Does this signal an evolution in the artist’s sound and a step away from the current commercial success of house into a more sonically experimental arena?
Now for the important bit: where can you see the mask in 2014?
Love Saves the Day : 24th-25th May, Castle Park, Bristol.
Described as a ‘celebration of this city and all that makes it so great’, this festival is regarded as the mecca of Britain’s freshest music. With a line-up including Bodhi, DJ EZ, Nina Kravis and Annie Mac, Love Saves the Day rounds off what is going to be a fantastic weekend for dance music with SBTRKT and his orchestra of electronica.
Field Day : 7th-8th June, Victoria Park, London.
Field Day, a two day summer event bringing together some of London’s most influential club promoters (e.g. Eat Our Own Ears and Bugged Out!), promises to produce a day of music and dancing. Set in London’s heartland at Victoria Park on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th June 2014, see SBTRKT, The Horrors, Pixies, Ghostpoet and many more amongst the charm of a village fete.
Parklife Weekender: 7th-8th June, Heaton Park, Manchester.
Perhaps the most exciting line-up of 2014 (and importantly, one that coincides with the end of exams) is that of Parklife Weekender. This is set to be a breathtaking two days of hip-hop, electronica and indie. The Warehouse Project has really come up trumps with this one. If the announcements of Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lemar and Disclosure didn’t already have you throwing money desperately at the screen then Pusha T, Katy B, Danny Brown, Jamie Jones, Mount Kimbie and Chromeo most certainly will. Oh and did I mention SBTRKT?
So, the question that remains: where will SBTRKT soundtrack your summer?
Fingers crossed for more cowbell.