Young Turks, XLrecordings
A remix artist in a mask! How cool and innovative it that? Well, it’s a gimmick, and along with his distaste for vowels, Mr. SBTRKT is not a bad musician, and he’s hooked up with trending artists like Drake. This debut album covers a good swath of today’s house sound territory with the A-list number “Wildfire.” Its female vocalist mixes the down and dirty sound of early Janet Jackson with an ethereal Sarah McLachlan aria from her “Delirium” days. A leisurely hip-hop back beat underlies its retro synth works, and then it’s off to the Autotune module. I find the opening track “Heat Wave” positively spacey; John Diliberto would have no problem putting it on as the lead tune in his second or third segment. “Sanctuary” starts in a similar vein, but becomes urgent as pressing keyboard sounds chase synthesized loops around the turn table. More soft feminine vocals appear in “Pharaohs,” I imaging the singers in tight dresses miming Motown choreography as they repeat the choruses. Wrapping the set is the moody “Go Bang” — it’s all electronic, touches on several sounds ranging from early Yes and King Crimson to Switched On Bach. There’s skilled sound construction here, Mr. SBTRKT creates a happy medium of complexity and simplicity in his mixes. I’ll bet if he took off the mask we’d all go, “Oh, it’s YOU!” and all have a good laugh.