October 21st- Nicolas Jaar- Sirens

 

Subtlety, Space and Silence are not qualities, which many would associate with modern electronic music especially in this post-EDM, brostep-inspired environment, in which we now live. However these three qualities are ones, which Nicolas Jaar fully inhabits. As a producer Jaar first attracted attention with his staggeringly excellent album Space is Only Noise, which has been lauded by many as being among the greatest electronic albums ever released. After some free downloads and an award winning essential mix Jaar now returns with Sirens, which quietly builds upon those omnipresent qualities within his work of: subtlety, space and silence.

Sirens kicks off with around 20 seconds of silence almost making the listener question whether the record has actually started. Fooling the listener from the off and putting them on edge with silence is an old trick but an effective one, it leaves the listener feeling unsure and uncertain and primed for the unexpected (of which Sirens contains muchs of). The silence is gently broken by the use of an effect which sounds like it was borrowed from an LTJ Bukem Record circa 1997. The track Killing Time is, much like everything on Sirens, a slow burner, which has been broken in to many seperate acts and then re-assembled into one track, it’s a skill, which fans of Burial will be familiar with and it is well employed here by Jaar.

Much of what makes Sirens such an engaging and interesting listen happens in the background. It is almost as if the listener is being told to pay attention to what happens in the shadows or the most interesting moments  could pass you by. You figure Jaar is a people watcher.

The complexity of Sirens is staggering there are multiple layers to every track: uses of samples, gospels choirs, jazz instrumentation, classical instrumentation, techno and much, much more besides. It will take the average listener a lifetime to decipher every element of Sirens. However, unlike lesser artists, it is this complexity, which makes Sirens entertaining rather than unlistenable.

There is a certain bleakness to Sirens, which fans of Jaar’s work will be familiar with but this bleakness is often balanced with such beautiful instrumentation that often it attains a strange alluring quality, which adds to the mystery of the album and certainly keeps the listener from tumbling into a self-pity party.

The reviews, which have so far appeared for Sirens have been over whelmingly positive with the album being called high art and its creator a genius. Whether these compliments are true or not I shall leave down to you. However, I will say that Jaar is a musicians musician who has, in Sirens, created a complex beast, which lives within subtlety.

Tunes of the Month June

You know the score, here’s the tracks i’ve been listening to this month.

 

  1. SG Lewis- Yours- Perfectly chilled and great for playing as a summer’s sun sunsets

 

2. Michael Mayer & Kolsch- With echoes of last year’s Four Tet remix of Eric Prydz’s track Opus this will be huge in Ibiza this year.

 

3.  Mykki Blanco & Woodkid- Highschool Never Ends- Brilliant video for an R&B track which is both beautiful and layered and produced in a complex and diverse fashion. Not to everyone’s taste but should be huge.

 

4. Cadenza- No Drama- Further proof if any was needed that UK grime and rap is strong at the moment.

 

5. Usher- Crash- Possible the best pop song of the year so far? No doubt about that. Welcome return from Usher.

February 19th- DJ Kicks Moodymann

 

The DJ Kicks series has been described as the Rolls Royce of mix series, this might be something of an exaggeration as such a claim over-looks the Fabric mix series, the Late Night Tale series and many others. However, to say it has produced some exceptional mixes would not be an exaggeration and to say two of last year’s DJ Kicks mixes by Actress and DJ Koze were understanding is nothing short of preaching the truth.

With such high praise Moodymann has a lot to do to make his a classic and to some extent he comes close.

Moodymann is an eclectic bugger his DJ sets take in disco, funk, hip hop, house, techno and everything in between and his acclaimed albums equally see him bounce between a multitude of styles. That approach style hopping is ever present hear. Moodymann takes in hip hop, soul, funk, house and even some folk. Everything is expertly mixed and so jarring is avoided. However that does mean things feel seamless to the listener often ones ears feel as if there is too much going on, too much being included and ideas are being flitted between.

There are some distinctly beautiful moments on this DJ Kicks mix and listening is an enjoyable experience.

However, if it was Moodymann’s desire to join the heights of great mixes in the series through his eclecticism, mixes such as DJ Koze, Actress, John Talabot and Kruder & Dorfmiester then he has slightly fallen short. That said it is still a very strong and well mixed effort, which is a joy to listen too.