New Flavour in Your Ear: SBTRKT – ‘Transitions’



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Everybody’s favorite mask-rocking producer recently made his mood-altering new EP available for streaming. Accompanying the atmospheric sound is a hypnotic visual concept dreamt up by Hidden Places, frequent SBKTRKT collaborator and inventor of the iconic mask, which has come to be the trademark of one of the most interesting electronic producers working today. Look and listen after the click.

French 19th century dramatist Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérable and grave wearer of an opulent white beard once said: ‘Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.’

This more or less sums up our recently commenced relationship with SBTRKT’s new EP, ‘Transitions.' Hence, flinging adjectives and descriptors at this masterful collection of instrumentals feels a little like an exercise in futility. A wanton, masturbatory pursuit serving none but our own aims and ends, i.e. our need to make manifest the sleek waves of elation that pass through our neural cortex when having a listen to the Transitions EP. What we're trying to say is that you should probably just listen to this yourself. Then again, it is Friday, so why shouldn't we just indulge every self-serving whim? And after all, Victor, who knows about these things, did say that music makes it impossible to be silent, which leaves us with a window of opportunity for navel-gazing.

And so, here we go: rooted firmly in the rapidly evolving and frequently mutating global bass sound, spawned and bred on the internet where millions of very different voices have contributed to the sound of now, Transitions feels alien, familiar and other all at the same time. Although it shares certain affinities with the skittering, metallic industrial funk of, for example, the Fade to Mind camp it also feels like a different bag altogether. There’s a strange kind of quiet confidence in there.

A willingness, if you will, to put an idiosyncratic spin on things that creates a very particular kind of meditative mood where everything seems possible, and yet the same focused direction is explored presumably because it’s so damn effective and deliciously novel. The drums are sparse and dry, the synths are lean and immersive while the pounding bass morphs in and out of the musical framework.

This is gleaming, blue android soul. A kind of paradoxically local, internet world music that probably only makes sense in 2014.

Have a good long listen while you check out the fluctuating visuals here.

Transitions I is out May 5, Transitions II is out May 19, and Transitions III is out June 2.