One reason we like SBTRKT, besides those wicked masks: Aaron Jerome is the only super-producer who can throw shitloads of reverb and coding over Sampha, smother him in what sounds like the slow strangling of R2-D2, and still make the title track of Wonder Where We Land pretty damn mesmerising. Clearly the man who won us all over with Wildfire is showing no signs of trepidation over his second album.
What unfurls over the next 13 or so tracks feels smooth and effortless. From the musical interludes sandwiching hot-tip Raury on Higher, to the haunting, nocturnal sounds of Jessie Ware on Problem Solved (pierced ever so often by a brilliant screech), this is an album packed with creativity and commercial strength. And, as always, SBTRKT is one of the few people out there who can harness the power of a guest vocalist to quietly dazzling effect (see also: Gon Stay with Sampha again).
The standout? It has to be Ezra Koenig‘s hypnotic NEW DORP, NEW YORK – beats build with menace but they’re offset by the Vampire Weekend frontman and his carnival-funk delivery. The only possible niggle might be SBTRKT’s default ‘pm’ setting, but that inherent darkness is what he’s all about. Wonder Where We Land is still one of the most refined and immaculately produced records of the year and, with any luck, ought to land him square in the spotlight.