Nicolas Jaar has graduated - at least from the trappings of any young electronic music producer (his graduation from Brown University is 18 months away) defying categorisation in his captivating arcane artist album, ‘Space Is Only Noise’.
Four years after his debut on the Brooklyn boutique label Wolf + Lamb, and the much lauded follow up ‘A Time for Us’, who’s glacial slow-jam take on house sent journalists scrambling for adjectives, the 20 year old New Yorker by way of Chile returns to Circus Company with an uncompromising manifesto on traces of the past, love lost, and specters of the future, entitled ‘Space is Only Noise’.
Few are the producers of any age with the cohones to ride a sub-100-bpm tempo at peak time in the techno mecca of Berlin, and fewer still are those who receive an ecstatic hands-in-the-air response for their precocious efforts. It is precisely this sense of risk which elevates ‘Space is Only Noise’ beyond the realm of valiant first effort or crossover dance music oddity. Those looking to wade through the sea of Jaar’s potential influences will quickly find themselves flailing in the deep waters populated by the likes of golden age Factory records and the home spun digitalism of Mille Plateaux, Endtroducing era DJ Shadow and Eric Satie.
Nico gently coaxes his listener into the experience from the opening sounds of rolling waves on ‘être’, but quickly transitions into the sophisticated percussion and meandering melodies that characterize his sound. Nico seeks, and often finds, beauty in melancholy on the first few tracks of the album, especially ‘Colomb’. As the album begins to accelerate with ‘Too many kids finding rain in the dust’, Nico confronts us with the often forgotten reality that our sadness is not mutually exclusive from the dance floor.
On ‘Keep me there’ Nico´s voice appears over the delicious, rumbling melody. "We´re in a really bad bed, right?" he remarks. "Mm-- it´s not really a bed. It´s like a balloon" responds a sultry female voice as they both crumble away in laughter. Though your hips stir to the relentless bassline and the sexiness of the voices, your heart is jolted out of its luxurious malaise with the eruption of horns. Time stopping electronic treasure, ‘Problems With The Sun’ and the equally potent title track, ‘Space Is Only Noise If You Can See It’ bring the dancefloor back into focus, but its not long before Jaar pushes back to serenity.
"How can you talk about a landscape without showing the sky and the earth?" a voice asks, translating from the French on ‘être’. So Nico concludes, revisiting the start to close the album. Complete landscapes such as this are only realized in contrast - the indulgent against the reserved, the sky against the earth, the lightness against the darkness. Never the less, ‘Space is Only Noise’ is a coherent tour de force with few modern equals, and a great sign of things to come from one of electronic music’s most exciting producers.
Having previously contributed to the catalog twice with his ‘Marks and Angels’ EP as well as the sublime ‘Your Waltz’ on the Snuggle and Slap compilation, Circus Company are delighted to present Nicolas Jaar’s first forray into the realm of the long player.
The album format can be a daunting one for even the most seasoned artists, and at a time when the flavour of the month single seems to trump all else, one which many feel increasingly inclined to shy away from. Jaar, however, has made it quite apparent over the course of his nascent catalog and increasingly sought after live sets that challenge is an intrinsic part of his creative discourse, and ‘Space Is Only Noise’ marks a luminous first step in this undoubtedly prolific journey.