Record review: Nicolas Jaar, Space Is Only Noise

NICOLAS-JAAR-SPACE-IS-ONLY-NOISEIf electronic artists keep getting younger at this rate we’re going to have infants operating synths straight out of the womb. Consider Nicolas Jaar, 20 year old New Yorker by way of Chile, whose debut has him making sparsely layered music for the new wave of understatedly melancholic and minimalist electronica, joining the ranks of fellow ingénue James Blake.

Spacious yet dense, there’s an immersive intensity that Jaar controls with jerks, claps and bleeps, but most of all with his own voice; in the fluctuating depths of the onomatopoeic tones of Keep Me There and when his modified monotone seems to dully reflect on the line ‘Because my eyes can’t see, why you don’t like me’ in Problems With The Sun. Take the subject matter as you will, the ambiguity gives full flight to the listener’s imagination; whether Jaar is musing on an apocalyptic future or the simplicities of love gone awry is entirely in the interpretation. Meanwhile, the songs are coloured with a million synth shades and tones, ranging from the shrill twang of harpsichord to the softer melody of piano keys.

The percussive elements are unobtrusive but vital to creating the incessant rhythmic pulse that keeps the blood pumping in this record. At its heart lies Space Is Only Noise If You Can See, a pulsing yet understated, drugged stance dance song. The multiple Jaar vocals trip over one another, echoing in a soundscape drenched with deep bass and twitching snare, teetering on a sinister edge that seems almost out of reach. The world he creates within this record is similar – gorgeously textured and constantly surprising.

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