Nicolas Jaar, you’ve done it again. Three years since his breakthrough album Space is Only Noise, Jaar has teamed up with Dave Harrington and following their remix of Random Access Memories in its entirety, the duo have recently released their new album Psychic under the name “Darkside”. A dedicated fan of Jaar’s previous work, I can only bask in the combined creativity of Jaar and Harrison – the power of collaboration in its most powerful form.
The beginning of Psychic is almost awkward as it scrapes through various static and muted sounds. Fare-weathered listeners may stray yet those who remain patient or know a little bit about Jaar’s tendencies towards incremental builds will wait to experience its unfolding. Nearly 5 minutes into the 11-minute opener, the beat finally comes in giving way to an arrangement so different in its sound yet true to Jaar’s mesmerizing experimental cosmic creations. “Heart” is filled with guitar riffs, catchy bridge lines and it’s the perfect lead in to “Paper Trails“, a blues-like groovy electronic treat.
Layer upon layer of electronic sounds brilliantly complimented with live instruments and recordings from the outside world. All the more rewarding in its entirety, the intricate details hidden within this album unfold into new unexplored territories. It’s unexpected, inviting, and leaves you salivating at every turn.
Stream the album in its entirety here. Purchase here.
Tour dates here.
“I love to fly. It’s just you alone. You’ve peace and quiet. Nothing around you but clear blue sky. No one to hassle you. No one to tell you where to go or what to do. The only bad part about flying is having to come back down to the fucking world.”
-Rat, Streetwise (1984)
Listening to good music is like flying. In our headphones we can experience magic. Lyrics, beats, melodies….the right combination of elements can stoke our fire, provoke our hearts, rip us apart and sew us carefully back together all at the same time. We can get behind the above statement on most counts, however the last sentence doesn’t ring true. Coming back down to the world is actually the best part about flying. Why? Because we love sharing what we’ve learned. Maybe we’ve felt the same. Maybe we haven’t but we’re curious. Maybe we have something that you’ve been missing. Maybe we can change the course of your life with a single lyric. It is with this sentiment that we present to you our 2nd annual Best In Sound.
1. Black Marble – “A Great Design”
2. Balue – “West Coast Bros”
3. New Build – “Schism of the Mind”
4. A$AP Rocky – “F__kin’ Problems feat. Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar”
5. Pacific Air (formerly KO KO) – “So Strange”
6. Juicy J – “Bands A Make Her Dance”
7. Lower Dens – “Brains”
8. Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools”
9. Tanlines – “Brothers”
10. Weekends – “Roommate”
1. Alt-J – “Something Good”
2. Sebo & Madmotormiquel – “Boys Boys (Original Mix)”
3. Lord Huron – “The Ghost on the Shore”
4. Rhye – “The Fall”
5. Pacific Air (formerly KO KO) - “Float”
6. Nicolas Jaar – “And I Say (ft. Scout LaRue and Will Epstein)”
7. Ghosts – “On An On”
8. Theme Park – “Wax”
9. Grimes – “Oblivion”
10. Pollyester – “Voices”
1. Alt-J - An Awesome Way
2. Polica - Give You The Ghost
3. Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
4. The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
5. Nicolas Jaar - Essential Mix
1. James Murphy DJ Set – Sasquatch Music Festival
2. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – The Malkin Bowl
3. Cat Power – The Vogue
1. Tanlines – “Brothers”
2. Flight Facilities – “Clair de Lune”
3. Craft Spells – “Burst”
4. Lord Huron – “She Lit A Fire”
5. Frank and Ry Wiedemann – “Howling (Ame Remix)”
6. Pachanga Boys – “Time”
7. Hot Chip – “Flutes”
8. Pat Walter – “Ghost House”
9. Tomas Barfod – “November Skies”
10. Milo Greene – “Don’t You Give Up On Me”
1. Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams
2. Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
3. Brothertiger - Golden Years
4. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
5. DIIV – Oshin
1. Other Lives – La Blogotheque Take-Away Show
2. Hot Chip + Passion Pi t- Hollywood Bowl
3. Gary Clark Jr. – Sayers Club
1. Summer Heart – “I Wanna Go”
2. Tanlines – “Brothers”
3. Pat Walter – “Ghost House”
4. Arsenal – “Melvin (Compuphonic Remix)”
5. Lord Huron - “She Lit A Fire”
6. Perseus – “Seychelles”
7. Jean Winner – “Alive & Kicking (Zimmer Remix)”
8. Flight Facilities – “Clair de Lune”
9. On an On – “Ghosts”
10. Pachanga Boys – “Time”
While scouring through my library and pulling my favorite sounds of 2012, I stumbled upon Nicolas Jaar‘s debut album, Space is Only Noise, planning to include it amongst my list of top albums of the year. That is, if the album had actually been released in 2012. Actually released early 2011, I wonder to myself how is it that I managed to completely fall in love with everything this guy does yet hadn’t even heard any songs from his only album? I realize I had been listening to his stuff only through Soundcloud and not only had the the way I had been listening to music shifted dramatically but my own personal taste in music had also morphed to now include a vast catalog of electronic musicians.
Although this shift is far from unique, I can’t help but reflect on the rapid evolution of this genre of music. We find ourselves at the cusp of a completely new style of music that is developing so quickly that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with the slew of new releases, compilations, albums, sets, podcasts, collaborations and mixes from basement dwellers, DJ’s, producers and bands world-wide. As a music enthusiast, the space has never been so overwhelming and so exciting.
Amongst those leading the charge, Jaar created his own label (Clown and Sunset) three years ago, his U.S. appearances just this last year included Pitchfork Music Festival, Brooklyn Electonic Music Festival and Art Basel in Miami, to name a few. He tours the world playing at the top clubs and festivals and he’s just a 22-year old college kid.
Expectations being central to the enjoyment of many albums, I strongly encourage you to experience this one without preconceived notions related to any of Jaar’s previous tracks. This particular body of work is a soundtrack through outer space that explores uncharted territory that even Jaar himself is unable to define. Difficult to swallow in short doses, its depth is better navigated patiently. Reach for your headphones and if at all possible, I strongly suggest giving the album your full attention for the full 45 minutes from beginning to end. But if you are unable to lend yourself completely and would prefer to merely sample, “Too Many Kids Finding Rain in the Dust” is a great place to start.
Initially seeking to decipher each sound, I continue to dive deeper and relax into the album settling into a state of serenity. Content to simply lie on my bed, eyes closed and listen with everything that I have. I can’t help but wish I could step into Jaar’s complex mind, so curious about the inner workings if his craft, to where it is that he travels to create an album of this magnitude. The ability to develop new sounds – organic noises found in our everyday lives combined with engineered synthetic creations. Joining offbeat, minor notes and seamlessly transitioning them into a brilliant progressions seemingly intended only for each other.