SBTRKT @ Prince Bandroom
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SBTRKT @ Prince Bandroom

sbtrkt-face.jpg

 

Managing to sell out the Prince Bandroom is no mean feat for a solo producer whose discography barely extends beyond one full-length album, but given the strength and mainstream appeal of SBTRKT’s take on the post-dubstep scene, it was of little surprise. The producer’s self-titled debut was one of the breakout releases of 2011, providing a breath of fresh air.

 

Given the limited back catalogue that SBTRKT has under his belt, it was no surprise that his set was a reasonably brief one – but one that was expansive and consistently engaging. Spending most of his time alternating between his drum-kit and the occasional knob-twiddling session behind his trademark mask, his set ran the full gamut of his eponymous debut album with one of the album’s singers Sampha adeptly providing vocal support.

 

Opening with Heatwave, an indescribable feeling of electricity immediately began to build throughout the crowd – the sound of wailing sirens over singer Sampha’s heavily-processed vocals climaxing in a wild breakdown, before segueing into the quieter, but equally as powerful Hold On with its spectacularly-improvised introduction. Sampha’s vocal range is just as stunning in a live setting as it is on record, adeptly supplemented by the live drums that SBTRKT himself spent much of his set hammering on.

 

Mid-set, SBTRKT self-deprecatingly told us that the duo were about to head into non-album territory and hoped that we would enjoy it, but whatever concerns about people not recognizing such material were entirely unwarranted – the resulting mix of heavy-hitting techno-inspired beats and moody, shadowy melodies sending feet into a frenzy.

 

My one criticism of the recontextualisation of his tracks for a live setting is that I suspect he forgets that the power of his music on record has much to do with its simplicity – his music is so appealing because he understands the power of restraint and minimalism, letting the deep basslines of tunes such as set-closer Right Thing To Do bubble ominously beneath the surface of pared-back rhythms and sparse synth melodies, but there were moments during his set where things could have used some paring-back. All in all, however – an outstanding display of technical precision and artistic vision from one of bass music’s most exciting innovators, and an excellent reminder that this man is one to watch over the next few years.

 

BY MIKI MCLAY

 

LOVED: The dude flipping his shit with every new track and singing along the entire gig. Big ups, dude.

HATED: Being able to see jackshit.
DRANK: Sips of beer stolen from the boyfriend.