Yonatan Ayal, known under the name xSDTRK has had music in his blood for a long time. Starting piano playing at age three, Ayal grew up to study at the Toronto Royal Conservatory and since has become a multi-instrumentalist. What this 23 year old musician has come to do is expand on the Canadian music scene, and release two tracks that are hauntingly perfect and perfectly haunting.
Six months ago, “powDer” was released on a newly opened Soundcloud page. Sounding largely atmospheric, xSDTRK utilizes a female vocalist against unsettling chords, warbling pads, and a beautifully distorted scream. The deep, powerful bass of the track follows along with the piano and essentially creates a low frequency sense of euphoria that glues the piece together. There’s a great part toward the middle of the song where the stereo mix opens quite a bit and allows for vocal loops and manipulations to provide themselves to the left and right speakers, creating a delayed effect.
“You feel your feet get heavy, starts inside, you’d do anything just to feel alive again” repeats the vocalist, while Yonatan aides in the background harmonies and aiding vocal calls. The best part of “powDer” is it’s distorted screams, which are looped and rip through the entirety of the mix with terrifying presence, but without disrupting the song’s mood. In fact, these calls so frighteningly help it out that it’s impossible to imagine the track without them. By the end stutter of the closing track, it’s clear that this xSDTRK project is something to watch.
Three months later, a second track, “sVcrethe.” immerses. This time, the tense sonic atmosphere that the aforementioned track was built on has been expanded, and is more densely imagined through the birth of “sVcrethe.” The mix of this track is a bit brighter than “powDer,” but it’s downtempo beat paints vivid, somber imagery as expansive vocal stutters and buffer sounds, smartly distorted, roar and give glitz to the imaging of the track. Toward the song’s middle, a filtering of the beat vastly fades, as if taking over the entire frequency from beginning, until it’s un-calmly end, then exploding into a frenzy of hi-hat percussion in which speeds along the song’s lethargic start.
If The Weeknd were to experiment with his songs a bit more, instead of going for the dark, faded vibe that Drake and himself have come to create, he’d sound a bit more like xSDTRK. There’s an obvious dark place that both respective artists come from in their work, but Yonatan (or Yoni) digs deeper. It’s more painful, more unnerving, but more artistic and sophisticatedly simple while staying largely and emotionally impactful.