Thursday, 3 March 2011

Review: Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise

Nicolas Jaar
Space Is Only Noise
Circus Company

Born in New York, relocated to Santiago then back to the States where he is now at Brown University, at the tender age of 19, Nicolas Jaar has also already played live and DJ sets in places such as Berlin and Mexico. Being physically well travelled lends his music if not an authentic (because that's a horrid vacuous term when applied to musical provenance) then a suitably echoic sense of conviction. Impossible to pin down into any one genre other than 'Electronic' (if you must, and which he will destroy when he hits Fabric, London with a full band at the end of March) just listening to any one track will have you feeling around for at least five or six artists it reminds you of; though mostly I hear the spirits of Villalobos and Kraftwerk - sprawling House music with a teutonic sense of clean lined efficiency, though you'll have to drift through 6 minutes of Eric Satie embalmed piano progression to reach the first strains of it, and even then it is slow and gracefully composed in delivering them up.  As restrained in it's sparse atmospherics as James Blake - to whom comparisons are inevitable - as well as equally youthful London based electronic-loop composer Halls (whose incredible reverb-heavy ep you can pick up for just £1 from his Bandcamp), this is an album that should be finding its way into many different music fans hearts.

Too Many Kids Finding Rain In The Dust is the first time a perceptibly driven beat kicks in, along with dryly intoned Autobahn style vocals and a similar tracer effect speeding through it, later on a less streamlined sense of momentum is punched out of the end of the record in the stuttering Variations coming in after an almost chaotic segue from icy minimalism through a jazz barrage that trips into a jarred vocal sample, repeatedly snatched just as it hits a peak – aptly titled no doubt and a cheeky precursor to the final Satie -esque piano tumbles of ^Tre that fade out to finish.

The highlight of the record, and the track I've posted below, involves a techno-esque throb, the Gui Boratto technicolour peak of the title track; a piece that starts off beautifully sparse then fills itself out with a fat krauty bass and vocal line reminiscent of Fujiya & Miyagi and some amazing cosmic-techno-futuristic-nihilistic sloganeering, until it builds into some filter-rich peaking House streaked with luminescence.

Much like Boratto's album Chromophobia was a beautifully nuanced listen, Jaar's album is also saturated with detail and a composed with a cool head, even when everything around it was sparkling and fizzing uncontrollabally, the composer at the helm kept a steady course through it, determined to ensure the aesthetic never lost itself too fitfully, using restraint as the vital final concluding part to the album.  If there's any complaint it's that the album is slightly too long, and these ideas of economy teeter on the edge of losing themselves in the scale of the venture - with the snatches of jazz and glitch breaking up the smoothness - or contrasting to it and aiding it - It's a complaint that doesn't undermine the achievement of this record too detrimentally, each track being as engaging as the last once it has you in its thrall.


Clown and Sunset

Circus Company

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