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Album Reviews

SBTRKT - Save Yourself

Adam Sputh

  Aaron Jerome, aka SBTRKT, has always remained wary of the spotlight.  He chose the name SBTRKT to remove the identity of any one person from the music, and the fact that he wears masks during his shows helps prove that.  He is a chameleon of a producer, and a proficient drummer who constantly shifts and evolves his sound from murky shadow-filled downtempo tracks to hyperactive extreme cosmic ballads that strive to reach massive heights. 

  Save Yourself was a surprise release, that was not prefaced by a series of EP’s like SBTRKT did with his Transitions series before he released 2014's Wonder Where We Land, and at only eight songs is a brisk listen that tries to look inward and be more concise then the massive double disc Wonder Where We Land project.  Instead of showcasing various artists as he did with Wonder, SBTRKT passes the torch to the R&B singer/songwriter The Dream to be the feature performer on three of the eight songs on the album. The standout banger on this album is Good Morning, where Dream starts with an uplifting intro paired with some huge horns that eventually give way to a great drum track that will definitely keep some speakers knocking until other producers and DJ’s come up with even dirtier remixes.  Just as Wildfire was the breakout hit on 2011’s SBTRKT album, this song has crossover appeal that can get some radio play whether SBTRKT likes it or not. 

  Yet as soon as the album quickly reaches its apex (Good Morning is the second track) it quickly drags back down.  Jerome enlists the help of upstart Cha Cha rapper D.R.A.M. and singer Mabel to try to make the strange and uncomfortable song I Feel Your Pain a little more tolerable, unfortunately it is still painful.  Sampha, a longtime collaborator with SBTRKT appears on the following song, TBD and brings it back to a level of steady nodding.  The song utilizes clever vocal back tracks, a steady heavy bass drum, and a nice chord change midway throughout the song to help save Save Yourself. 

  The remainder of the album consists of two more songs with Dream and two instrumentals that strive to become a soundtrack for the universe but unfortunately are not very astronomical.  But remember, this is a SBTRKT album, which means that it is inimitable and extremely creative even if it misses more than it hits.  One can only hope that Jerome is warming up after a two-year break, and this will just be the start of many more (and better) songs to come.

By Brian Kearney