Unified by dub's loose sense of space and deep sub-frequencies, CHLLNGR's unique amalgam of soul, pop, stripped-down beats, and decaying atmospheres has earned the Copenhagen-based artist, Steven Jess Borth II, adulation from press and peers alike. The nocturnal, murky worlds of his debut 'Haven' and it's follow-up EP 'Datter' alluded to subtle pop possibilities featuring Borth's soft-touch vocals woven into structures indebted to modern R&B's sleek minimalism and the techniques set forth by dub reggae's chief architects King Tubby, Scientist, among countless other legends. An artist who shines in the collaborative process, Borth's acclaimed debut 'Haven' featured Coco (of Quadron), Aku (of Dragons of Zynth), Teachers, and he has been a consistent cohort of South African MC Spoek Mathambo partnering in composing, production, and touring as Mathambo's multi-instrumentalist secret weapon over the past few years.
Over the past year, CHLLNGR has been working on his next full-length for the LA-based Time No Place label. Recorded at the newly built Red Bull Studios in Copenhagen, Borth took a different approach by recording most of the new record at a legitimate studio as opposed to his previous DIY methods. Again, a collaborative effort: the new album features contributions from up-and-coming vocalist JOSIAHWISE IS THE SERPENTWITHFEET, Blaqstarr, Grace Hall of Skin Town, Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild (When Saints Go Machine, Cancer) and the UK based artist DELS. Keeping much CHLLNGR's signature moody starkness, his forthcoming LP strives for brave eclecticism, digging deeper into his future-minded soul music explorations.
striking, nuanced productions that both work as mood music and stand up to scrutiny.
A heady blend of synths, brass and pop, it’s a solid step forward for this artist.
Steven Jess Borth II first caught our attention with his 2011 debut Haven, which squared late-night R&B sonics with a heavy dub influence. That idea is more fully explored on Form Of Release
the Sacramento-born, Copenhagen-based artist explores pop and R&B songwriting through the lens of dub-influenced electronic minimalism; his latest work is the fullest expression of that approach.
When CHLLNGR broadens his musical palette, the album comes alive.
upbeat, skittering, dubby pop
Across eleven diverse and accomplished productions ranging from icy R&B minimalism reminding of inc. or HTDW, thru warmer Junior Boys-alike boogie and uptempo soul-pop burners, CHLLNGR’s versatile soul vocal and feel for uncluttered dub spaciousness are really the only common elements, and equally one of the main attractions.
CHLLNGR (a.k.a. Denmark-by-some-way-of-California: Steven Jess Borth II) is stepping up swinging with “Without Yours” off his sophomore LP Form of Release.
CHLLNGR brought Obama’s dude Blaqstarr, Grace Hall of Skin Town, UK rapper Dels, and Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild of When Saints Go Machine to coexist in the gloomy Form of Release biodome.