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