Artist of the week: Nicolas Jaar
In the last decade, Nicolas Jaar has occupied a erratic spot in the American dance music landscape, a vanguard artist that kept flirting with a wider acceptance. Immune to trends, but popular enough to headline several music festivals, his minimalist electro-pop and ambient leanings first appeared in full force in the seminal Space Is Only Noise (2011), whose title pretty much defined his unique approach to plot expansive sounds in the mind of listeners. The gloomy psychedelia of Darkside followed with the help of multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington, with whom he created the ominous Psychic in 2013. In recent years, he retreated from the spotlight with a series of obscure projects: Nymphs, a series of entrancing 12’’s; Pomegranates, a 20-track abstract score to Sergei Parajanov’s 1969 avant-garde film The Colour of Pomegranates; and a searing soundtrack for Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or-winning 2015 film, Dheepan.
It comes then as no surprise that Sirens is being released as his second official solo album. It is a considerable departure from his previous work with the exception of his debut: it takes the same idiosyncratic approach to rhythm and textures but expands it into a more eclectic and politically engaged direction. There is an emergence of much needed sense of narrative progression in his music, mixing English words with Spanish ones, exotic samples with die-hard dance beats and psychedelic gentle moments. All these ingredients are articulated is such a masterful manner that the record stands not only as the author’s much awaited artistic resurgence, but as the best record in 2016 to fully explore the depths of a sonic aesthetic based on collage.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.