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.

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