Song 252: SBTRKT, “Never Never” (2011)


There’s something about the combination of voice and electronic music that I find really fascinating. The draw may be as simple as the contrast between the synthetic and the organic, and how, when combined, one can sound like the other.

In the case of SBTRKT’s song “Never Never,” DJ and singer Aaron Jerome’s warm, honey-coated voice provides an interesting counterpoint to the rapid-fire snares and thunk-thunk-thunk keyboards. At the same time, however, Jerome’s vocals become more choppy as the song goes on, and the track’s electronic elements become smoother and more prolonged. It’s as if Jerome is facing off against an emotionless void and, if not winning, understanding its use.

On the other hand, if there’s anybody who doesn’t need to learn the use of technology, it’s SBTRKT. His self-titled debut is an excellent record, one that melds ’80s and ’90s R&B with club music. That’s a very trendy aesthetic right now, to say the least, but Jerome is one of the few people doing it right. By making his productions sound open and full of space, you start noticing what’s missing, in the best possible way. Not for nothing is the guy’s name pronounced “subtract.”


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