Tag Archives: wonder where we land

The Best Albums of 2014: #3 SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land

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Wonder Where We Land, the 2nd full-length LP from English producer Aaron Jerome, (stage name SBTRKT) is an album about process. It’s about a calculated vision, a journey around the world to seek out the players for and the creation of an otherworldly land.

The album’s first sessions were recorded on Osea, a tidal island off the Essex coast that floods every 8 hours daily. So picture this, Jerome and company (Sampha, Chairlift’s Carolyn Polacheck, et al..) have a 4-hour window to drive across the ocean on a tidal road from Essex to a remote studio in Osea and then, they’re essentially stuck there when the roads flood as the tide rises. It’s a creative strategy that affects the mind-frame of an artist and surely lends to deep focus and creativity in the cryptic setting. Pigeons & Planes did a killer feature on the album and had a segment on Carolyn Polacheck’s strange journey to get there, it’s worth a read. 

In Osea, the insidiously haunting “Look Away” with Polacheck was recorded as well as the brilliant “Temporary View” with Sampha. “Temporary View” was a call-back to a formula devised by Jerome on SBTRKT’s debut LP (our #1 album of 2011), which changed the face of electronic collaborations, as he churned out now classics with Sampha, Jessie Ware and “Wildfire” with Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano (Go ahead and consider “Widlfire” the most important catalyst for the electro-soul collaboration movement.)

But I digress, Jerome chose a handsome slew of collaborators here and it’s clear that he sought to not only highlight his production with some of the most significant players in music today like Ware and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig,  but also anoint the next class of rising stars in Raury, Koreless and Denai Moore. “The Light” with Moore is one of the album’s most promising moments and he even subtly interpolates Moore’s vocals on other tracks; This was another strategy Jerome employed to build the world of this album around it’s players: While the featured artists are credited on their primary tracks, they appear again on other tracks as voices in the background and it plays into the concept of a mysterious land that builds its existence within the listener’s perception of where they are on the album at any given point in time.

Also not lost, is the visual component of this record and how it contributes to the creation of this world. The interactive “Look Away” video, features a mysterious character who’s eyes follow you as the music plays; The video for “New Dorp, New York,” goes in depth about the mammal on the cover of the record and builds the story of the dark and remote world of Wonder Where We Land:

I could go on about the infinite nuances of Wonder Where We Land…How SBTRKT was able to pry a deeply emotional lament from trap-lord A$AP Ferg on “Voices in My Head,” or how Koreless’ co-production on “Osea” is Jerome calling attention to his most similar contemporary. I was puzzled at the mixed reaction of this record, the follow-up to what I argue is the most influential album of the last 5 years. Jerome’s journey into Osea with his crew and across the Atlantic to corral the album’s final players is an essay in collaborative production. I keep picturing him on a flight with a to-do list (get coffee with Ezra Koenig in New York , call Carolyn Polacheck, fly to Atlanta to meet 18-year old MC Raury, find wherever Ferg is and go there, etc…) From where I’m standing, this was a uniquely digital effort that meticulously plucked significance from a saturated music scene to create something special and a world unto itself. Let me know when you get there.

SBTRKT at The Belasco in LA: PHOTOS & Review

SBTRKT’s Aaron Jerome descended upon The Belasco Theater for the 2nd of a two-night-stint at the Downtown LA venue and despite not having usual companion Sampha on stage with him, managed to wow the sold out crowd into oblivion.

DSC_3929 The vocals were dialed in to the point where it felt like the many collaborators from the just released Wonder Where We Land and 2011’s classic self-titled LP were there on stage. Jerome provided the hauntingly distorted vocal hook on single “New Dorp New York” and he along with two new stage musicians gave us an hour and a half of bliss.

There were spellbinding elongated versions of “Something Goes Right” and “Hold On” and a trippy video projection of  “Look Away,” reminiscent of the recently released interactive video. Atlanta MC, Raury jumped on stage to perform “Higher” and commanded the crowd, but the highlight of the night was Jerome’s ambitious Radiohead remix of “Lotus Flower.” It takes a special talent to tastefully remix Thom Yorke and Co & SBTRKT pulled it off masterfully.

“…a remix from this band called Radiohead” Jerome joked just before dropping the track. It drew into SBTRKT’s signature tribal drums, staying true to the mask he still adorns on stage. It felt like SBTRKT is one of the few acts who could make people happy with a simple DJ set if he wanted to. Jerome carried the show and it was a pleasure to see this evolution of an artist who carefully plucked so many wonderful collaborators for Wonder Where We Land to commanding the stage as the focal point of the night.

DSC_3909DSC_3910 DSC_3982 DSC_3974 DSC_3930 DSC_3948 DSC_3958 DSC_3927All photos by Adrian Spinelli and Jason Chiang


Jams Run Free: Ryan Hemsworth, Kendrick Lamar, SBTRKT (video)

Ok y’all…New feature here. Every Tuesday I’ll be dropping a few tracks, videos, etc…that pique the Everything Ecstatic interest. Here’s what we’ve got lined up this week:

Ryan Hemsworth feat Dawn Golden “Snow In Newark”

Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth drops the 1st single off his second LP. Last year’s Guilt Trips was flat out awesome and on “Snow In Newark,” Hemsworth brings a chiller jam to the table with vocals from Mad Decent MC Dawn Golden. Listen:

Kendrick Lamar – “i”

Lower case i in the house! Yes, i’m a notorious abuser of lower case i’s (see what i did there?). Kendrick comes at us with a soulful groove sampling The Isley Brothers’ 1973 hit, “That Lady.” It’s definitely new terrain for Kendrick and my first reaction was “Is Kendrick going all Black Eyed Peas/Pharrell with this crazy accessible poppy shit?” I dunno….Whatever it is, i’m irresistibly drawn to it. Listen for yourself:

 SBTRKT video for “New Dorp New York” (feat. Ezra Koenig)

And now for your moment of Zen (ok, it’s my moment of Zen, but it can be yours too!) The sprinkling of material off of SBTRKT’s highly anticipated 2nd LP, Wonder Where We Land  continues (officially releases on October 7th.) We were graced with the creepy interactive video for “Look Away” last week and now we have before us, the video for the album’s tripped out first single, “New Dorp New York” with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. It’s an animated look at predatory creatures of the night, including the hybrid SBTRKT-cat from the album’s cover art. Watch it now:

This concludes your Jams Run Free edition #1 program.


New SBTRKT ft. A$AP Ferg, “Voices In My Head”

SBTRKT released what will be the closing track to his upcoming LP Wonder Where We Land. On “Voices In My Head”, SBTRKT manages to harness A$SAP Ferg’s deep voice into a melancholy jazz lament. Ferg’s mind is in chaos, but his delivery manages to stay controlled.

While spiraling effects are spread throughout the track, it closes with a swirling piano and we’re left spinning with Ferg. It’s a kick ass track, hear it here: