Review: SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land

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Wonder Where We Land is the second studio album from London-based Aaron Jerome, formally known as SBTRKT. The album maintains the distinctive experimental style recognisable in SBTRKT’s self-titled album released in 2011, and even takes the experiments a step further- with 21 songs packed into an hour long double album.

Before releasing the full studio album, SBTRKT released 3 EPs as part of his ‘Transitions’ series. The EPs, which can be found on his Soundcloud, mark a transition between the self-titled first album and Wonder Where We Land, preparing listeners for the innovative style to come.

We are eased into Wonder Where We Land with ‘Day 1’, 30 seconds of rising electronics, before being greeted with the title track of the album. The title track is a little tamer in style than others, but with a multi-layered construction of vocals and electronics – featuring SBTRKT’s frequent collaborator, Sampha – it does not falsely lull you into a sense of security. The start of the album presents an almost calculated theme of alternating between songs with vocals and those that lay bare the electronic talents of Jerome, but as it progresses this scheme falls away and listeners are introduced to the huge range of collaborators on Wonder Where We Land.

Sampha, who featured on SBTRKT’s self-titled album back in 2011, is not the only one to collaborate once more with the solo-artist. Jessie Ware, who featured previously on ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Right Thing To Do’, works again with SBTRKT for the track ‘Problem (Solved)’. Her vocals work wonderfully against the backdrop of SBTRKT’s music on what is one of the lighter tracks of the album, and it is perfectly clear to see why the choice was made. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig is also among those to collaborate on the album with the cleverly lyricized ‘NEW DORP. NEW YORK.’

Others to feature include Warpaint, Raury, Caroline Polachek, Koreless and A$AP Ferg. It would be all too easy to focus almost entirely on the collaborations that feature so strongly on the album, but that would dismiss the talent of SBTRKT that is the undercurrent for all of the tracks on Wonder Where We Land.

The separation of the two disks of the double LP seems to mark a slight shift in tone from the first to the second, with the latter end of the album (particularly ‘War Drums’ which features vocals from Warpaint) marking a more haunting tone to the former. The album as a whole is then brought full circle by ending on a purely electronic final track in the form of the beautifully constructed ‘Decemberist’, which presents the style we truly associate with SBTRKT.

Wonder Where We Land is, essentially, an excellent follow up to SBTRKT’s self-titled album. At the hands of a more ambitious range of collaborations and styles comes an album that is a little disjointed at times, but it is possible to get past this. You could not knock the sheer talent of Aaron Jerome and his ability to unify such a level of experimentation on one album- so let’s hope there isn’t another three-year wait before his next instalment.

Wonder Where We Land is out now via Young Turks records.

3.5 stars

 

 

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Third year English student, Records Editor, list maker and lover of Kinder Buenos.

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