nicolas jaar

EP Review: Darkside - Darkside

Nicolas Jaar still confuses the hell out of me. An artist influenced by Minimal IDM sounds like a snore rest on paper, but Jaar's hero Ricardo Villalobos is perhaps the only minimal producer who I can really see the artistry in. His music doesn't feel like it was only made for taking drugs to.

Space is Only Noise has moments of brilliance and I love it. But earlier this year seeing Jaar play live at Fabric was an unnerving experience on a couple of levels. Jaar benefits from a passionate following, the likes of which I haven't seen for a while: Fabric was packed out on a mid-week night (I think it was Wednesday?) and no-one was in any doubt that this was a star we were witnessing. There was no mild curiosity from inquisitive bloggers here, instead the room filled with wall-to-wall fever. Where did this excitement come from? And my bigger question was why - on record Jaar sounded great, atmospheric, emotional, experimental. In the flesh, sadly, it most sounded like this was just music made for taking drugs to.

Open air at Glastonbury was a different experience. There was more space, less dancing and the sky was lined with menacing storm clouds hanging threateningly overhead. It turned out to be much more fitting.

DARKSIDE - A1 by Clown & Sunset

Darkside is a side project from Jaar, collaborating with Dave Harrington. Together they focus on what Jaar does best - this is paranoid, dark pop music that blends live instrumentation with techno rhythms. Slow builds and breakdowns take the listener on a journey and, as a head piece, it's marvellous. Guitar work picks its way around nervous vocals and clattering synths. This feels part weirded out road trip with David Lynch, part cowboy blues, part Sunday morning maudlin come-down.

And so the conclusion to my confusion is this: I don't want to dance to Nicolas Jaar, I want to think to him. I want to experience the world filtered through his music coming out my headphones.

BP x

Darkside is out now on Nicolas Jaar's own Clown and Sunset label, you can order it on MP3 here.

Live: London Electronic presents Nicolas Jaar Live at Fabric

Nicolas Jaar's debut album Space Is Only Noise continues to capture the imagine in a way no other album has been able to match so far this year (yes, it is early days)... There is something about the variety on display - one moment it is throwing obtuse lyrics at you in a monotone voice reminiscent of something the Merrit might use on a Magnetic Fields track, the next it's turned into freeform jazz.

Jaar is playing live in London on Wednesday 30 March and it should be a little bit special. Resident Advisor voted Jaar's as the second best live set last year and his focus on atmospherics rather than dancing should make the show unlike pretty much anything else that has graced the venue - particularly as this is a live set, not a DJ set.

London Electronic is focused on taking electronic music away from the weekend and the DJ booth, giving artists the opportunity to play live on centre stage. They will apparently be running events irregularly throughout the year so look out for them.

Tickets cost £12.50 and can be bought from Resident Advisor.

BP x

Album Review: Space Is Only Noise - Nicolas Jaar

Nicolas Jaar just made something indescribable. Space Is Only Noise isn't techno, but it feels a little bit like techno. In fact, it isn't really dance music at all yet it is routed in Jaar's earlier experimentation, but the songs themselves feel like they have got all twisted up inside his head. Imagine one of Ricardo Villalobos' most off the wall efforts, give it enough rope to hang itself and then watch it take it and simply run away.

This is music for listening to. Not dancing, working or talking against. BlackPlastic put this on in the office to the visible frustration of colleagues - the beauty is in the detail and the texture and in in anything but centre stage it just doesn't work.

But give it room and Space Is Only Noise can blow your mind. Jazz flourishes and four-four kicks and spaced out, warped vocals make this a strange varied listen. Space Is Only Noise is an appropriate title - just like on James Blake's recent debut this has bags of the stuff, and a lot of the time it is the space that defines the sound. In fact just about everything that James Blake just did for dub step Jaar does here for techno.

At it's best the tracks come together to make something brilliant, confusing and startling. 'I Got A Woman' feature one simple broken beat and various instruments seemingly falling apart whilst a looped soul vocal repeats the song's title. It doesn't sound like much - indeed it isn't - but it manages to capture a strange feeling, with the vocalist seemingly conveying disdain at his apparent emotional attachment.

'Balance Her In Between Your Eyes' snaps and crackles with jazz piano samples and snatches of soul to beautiful effect before transforming into 'Trace', which sounds like little more than a band sound check as an interlude. And that says a lot about this album - these aren't songs so much as pieces or movements. Each intriguing and beguiling in equal measure, but it comes together as a magnificent body of work reminiscent of some of Eno's mist experimental moments.

The title track is the album's real standout moment. Slinky, loose and paranoid, Jaar's vocals sound like the ravings of a man losing his way through his own mind. Uttering about his subject's past habits of checking the weather and the time. BlackPlastic has no idea what any of it is about (people's tendency to change no matter how much we may wish they wouldn't?) but it works. Gradually a strummed bass becomes the only dependable aspect of the song as everything else descents into glorious chaos before it all comes back to kick your arse with it's bouncing bass line.

Space Is Only Noise is an album of atmospherics and it pursues pure sound and feeling at the expense of all else. Frankly it's an astounding listen.

BP x

Space Is Only Noise is out now on Circus Company, available from on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].