Words About Music
Two years ago, excellent up-and-coming electronic musician Nicolas Jaar hit the ground running with his debut album “Space Is Only Noise,” an album that garnered tons of acclaim, and rightfully so. Although the American-Chilean musician hasn’t released a proper followup since, he has recorded music with guitarist and fellow electronic musician Dave Harrington under the collaborative name Darkside. Darkside released an EP in late 2011 which was followed up earlier this year by “Random Access Memories Memories,” a remix LP of the new Daft Punk album, although this album was released under the name Daftside. Finally, though, we have the studio debut from Darkside, and it’s an infectious blend of groovy progressive rock, krautrock, and ambient electronic music. It’s like listening to a collaboration between Can, Santana, and Brian Eno. I almost wasn’t sure what to make of it at first.
Much like bass virtuoso Thundercat, Darkside like to incorporate strangely toned vocals in their music. I believe these vocals are provided by Nicolas Jaar but I’m not exactly sure. Anyway, the vocals enhance this album’s already well-defined atmosphere much in the way Portishead enhance their sounds with the vocals of Beth Gibbons. This album is just so complex at times that it almost doesn’t feel like an album that could have possibly been written down on paper. It feels sort of improvised instead of calculated. That’s just the only explanation for an album so layered, especially since it was created by only two people. Every synthesized chord, every sample, every drum, every vocal take, it all just sounds too perfect to have been created by mortal man. “Psychic” is like a journey through the decades. It’s like listening to Grateful Dead in the rain but with less hippies and more electronic grooves.
Front to back, “Psychic” is a total jam that really defies song length. It could seriously be one song and would make no difference to the enjoyment and understanding of this record. It’s just one long, peaceful, extended jam from musicians that I imagine are going to be in very high demand within the next few years. It’s a very cozy record that takes ambience to a level not often reached by electronic musicians. Even Oneohtrix Point Never sort of eschewed ambience with his new album and instead went down the route of further experimentation into new genres without as much as emotion. Needless to say, “Psychic” is as emotional as it gets.
As great as “Space Is Only Noise” was, I’d definitely say that “Psychic” is a much better record. Even though they were technically the products of two different “artists,” Nicolas Jaar’s beautiful instrumentation and production are both apparent and very difficult to ignore. This isn’t the sort of electronic music that glitches or makes you want to dance, and it’s certainly not the purest form of ambient music that’s ever been put out, but it’s an intelligent melding of genres that makes for a truly psychedelic and mind-melting piece of music. So take some time out of your day to listen to “Psychic” because you won’t regret it.
SCORE – 9.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – Golden Arrow, Heart, Paper Trails, The Only Shrine I’ve Seen, Freak Go Home, Metatron