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Album Review: SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land

22 September 2014 | 10:45 am | Benny Doyle

There’s no doubt this record is about togetherness.

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The man in the mask is back with another collection of gorgeousness; after-hours exotica that feels like velvet touching your skin.

No track on Wonder Where We Land overstays its welcome; SBTRKT – British producer Aaron Jerome – finds a good idea, lets it live with you briefly, then builds on the songs one by one to create a stunning whole. The consideration he shows within these tunes is sublime. The title track is full of nondescript whirs, fizzes and crackles, sounds that envelope vocal showcase Sampha. He plays an integral role on this record, as he did on SBTRKT’s 2011 eponymous debut, offering up a smooth style – confident and assured without ever once sounding cocky.

Voices in general contribute greater on this sophomore release, humanising the album in a way that the organic production demands. Jessie Ware is a standout on Problem Solved, Caroline Polachek goes full Bond muse during the at-times uncomfortable Look Away, while Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig adds some tropical frivolity to proceedings with lead single New Dorp. New York. No one is more suitable, or exciting, however, than Sampha. He’s a show-stopping talent in his own right, but with SBTRKT showering him in creative electronic brilliance, he’s a superstar.

There are also a number of songs where SBTRKT leaves the sounds standing as the hero. It gives the album gills, letting it breathe on its own without leaning on any third party. But although the overall sonics are spacious, there’s no doubt this record is about togetherness.

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