Hypnotic Debut Album ”Psychic” from Nicolas Jaar and his Darkside.

Darkside's Psychic.

Darkside’s Psychic.

Nicolas Jaar first rose to official prominence when he won the annual BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix of the Year joust in 2011. Moving effortlessly from Bill Callahan, the Aphex Twin and Keith Jarrett to Marvin Gaye, Beyoncé, NSYNC(!) and back again, you can see the full track listing here. And you can download it – minus the annoying BBC idents – via the small grey download under the blue Play button here.

For the last year or two he’s been touring with fellow DJ hipster Dave Harrington as Darkside and Psychic is their debut album, after their eccentric and ever so slightly academic remixing of Random Access Memories (reviewed by me earlier here) which they called Daftside.

The women of Twin Peaks.

The women of Twin Peaks.

And yes I know, remixing and sampling the archetypal musical magpies produces a resplendent po-mo moebius strip that’s delightfully clever, but it doesn’t make the results any more danceable.

Psychic is a much more robust affair. As you’d expect after hearing the regal Essential Mix, which kicks off with Angelo Badalementi talking us through the composing of the Twin Peaks’ theme, this is indietronica filtered through the prism of widescreen cinemascope.

The best way into the album really is via the Essential Mix. Everything that is deftly hinted at and explored in Psychic, from dubstep and disco to prog rock psychedelia, free jazz and Enoesque minimalism is aired and touched on there.

This is what Jaar feeds off of, where he sources his ingredients from. But the album that results when it’s all reduced down to a single 45 minute record is its own beast entirely. And yet beneath the surface, all those elements can clearly be savoured.

Psychic  is both moody and menacing, yet rhythmically driven, deftly straddling the divide between electronic ambiance and the dancefloor. Where just enough is suggested by the breathy, falsettoed vocals without ever being fully explained.

This is what Donal Dineen means when he uses the term “headphones” as a genre description. Ian Cohen gives it a 9.0 and a more fulsome description in Pitchfork here. And Jim Carroll has an interview with Dave Harrington in the Irish Times here. It get the album of the week from Nialler 9, the best Irish music blog here.  And you can hear Paper Trails from the album performed live here. Get the album and the Essential Mix. It’s not the sound of the future. It’s the sound of now.

Sign up for a subscription right of below, and I shall keep you posted every week on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Television and Music!