SBTRKT is back, and with what shouldn’t be understood as an album, but in project mastermind Aaron Jerome’s own words, “a complete piece with a beginning, end and visual concepts that have been worked on over many months”. This summarises it pretty well, but there is so much more to SAVE YOURSELF. While it is reminiscent of his last 2014 release Wonder Where We Land, this latest 25 minute long project, complete with an accompanying short animation, has a clear agenda of exploring and pushing sonic and conceptual boundaries.
There’s not really a context to listen to this in, it’s more the sort of compilation which you just have to set time aside to take in. Some of the tracks are very pop-like, such as ‘GOOD MORNING’ and ‘READY OR NOT’, but even then most of them are really there to be appreciated for the intelligence in their construction, if intelligence indeed it may be. Sometimes the attention to layering and variety of sound levels within each songs becomes too chaotic and ultimately, uncomfortable to listen to.
The-Dream features three times, and is one of a host of guests who appear on this project, along with Mabel, D.R.A.M. and of course it wouldn’t be SBTRKT without at least one appearance from Sampha. The scope of featuring artists and approach in style to each song really adds to the impression that this is an artistic project, not a chart topper. Sometimes this approach falls short, and tracks like ‘GEMINI’ end up sounding a bit too much like the Super Mario Bros theme than a masterpiece of production. By the time you’ve finished listening to SAVE YOURSELF, all you can do is respect the sheer amount of thought and detail which has gone into it.