Top positive review
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A Strong New Voice
on 16 March 2011
Minimalist techno? Possibly/maybe. I wouldn't call it that
myself. Nicolas Jaar's debut album 'Space Is The Only Noise'
doesn't fit tidily into any particular box truth-be-told and
that is why it sustained both my interest and admiration.
Each of the 14 pieces in the collection sort-of reach out
and tap you on the shoulder to announce their fragile presence.
Two of the tracks ('Sunflower' and 'Trace') are less than a
minute long but nothing ever really overstays its welcome.
Mr Jaar stiches sound together into something resembling a
sonic patchwork quilt. There is logic and order at work in
the compositional structures but there is also a little chaos
mixed in for good measure just to keep us on our toes.
Some of the pieces have a coherent rhythmic narrative.
'Variations' is a delightful invention which had my toes
tapping despite themselves. A pinch of tribal; a dash of
folk; a soupcon of fractured falsetto soul. Wonderfully
weird yet also curiously emotionally affecting.
The clicks and clatters; the ghost-rider reverb guitar and
the half-heard whispered words of 'Too Many Kids In The Dust'
is another piece of beguiling musical voodoo, not unlike some
of the tortured and ambiguous sound-dramas of Tom Waits.
The subdued latin beats and bubbling underwater chords of
'Keep Me There' conjure up a spooky cheek-to-cheek Danse
Macabre. Like one of those wonderful Mexican Dia De Los
Muertos arrangements of tiny skeletal figures going about
their daily business oblivious to the fact that they no
longer have flesh on their bones!
The echoing vocal elements of 'Space Is The Only Noise If
You Can See' weave in and out of a cheekily loping bass riff
rattling and rolling through the spaces between the stars.
"Replace the word space with a drink and forget it..." intones
Mr Jaar. Methinks he has the capacity for a little drollery too!
So strange and so much to enjoy. 'Colomb' is a curiously beautiful
confection. The gentle almost-jazzy piano part supports a whistfully
deconstructed vocal of captivating intensity and mystery.
All-in-all I am quite convinced that Mr Jaar is onto something here!
Open your heart and your ears and don't be scared to jump straight in!
This is interstellar alchemy of the most accessible kind.