Send me your track


Nicolas Jaar - Space is only Noise


Circus Company


Briefly, Nicolas Jaar’s buzz-fuelled rise goes like this. A ridiculously young and smoulderingly attractive Chilean citoyen du monde with effortless good taste and undeniable classically-trained musical talent has what is known as a “massive 2010”. He releases a bona fide dancefloor smash on an impossibly cool New York record label, and has the chutzpah to upset the global dance music applecart with his ecstatically-received 100bpm peak time sets across the world. At the same time he’s given a platform to expound his literate theories of art and consumption.

It’s hardly Noddy Holder: My Story. Indeed, it’s enough to make even the most gullible hype-gobbler pause for thought. How cool is this guy? Is he a triumph of style over substance? And can Jaar’s debut full-length Space Is Only Noise match the “Villalobos meets Erik Satie” build-up? The answers are: very, only partly, and it does a pretty good job. This is an excellent album, worth spending some time with.

Opening track Être draws you in slowly, with high fidelity field recordings and solo piano, played freely but inoffensively; like a riverside dinner jazz pianist warming up. This apparent formlessness allows a couple of the album’s strengths to come straight to the fore. Firstly the gorgeous warm production, which seems to find a dubwise amount of space and dynamics in some complex arrangements and instrumentation; and then the transitions, which are so expert as to make the whole album feel like a single piece, extended but easy to swallow.

In the first instance the segue is into Colomb, featuring lounge synths and vocodered samples reminiscent of “Moon Safari”-era Air (who, lest we forget, were also once considered exotic cocktail-cool foreigners). This fades via a mood piece to “Too Many Kids Finding Rain In The Dust”, the first of several vocal-led tracks. And tracks they defiantly are, as you would hesitate to call them songs in any conventional sense. Jaar has a strangely affected jazz singer style, somewhere between early (i.e. less gruff) Tom Waits and the archest moments of Nick Cave, but he treats his vocal as just another instrument to draw on, sample and process with his production skills. This is pleasantly restrained, and the unexpected moments of brilliance created through massive drops into space in the middle of a phrase are worth the occasional grating lyric.

Personal highlights include the syncopated slo-mo “Keep Me There”, a house tune in form if not function, and, at the end of the album, “Variations”, which seems to build out of cut-up samples of plucked and bowed strings of all kinds, tied to a padded beat. And it’s testament to a remarkable achievement of building up intensity over the course of the album without ever increasing the tempo above Valium levels.

Indeed, the whole of Space Is Only Noise is a remarkable achievement taken together, all the more so for being such a self-assured debut. Perhaps the only criticism is that few of the tracks would hold up well on their own. They are more sketches of the larger picture - but what a rewarding picture it is.
Sam Stagg

Reader Comments (1)

great post, love reading about space activities.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« IsolĂ©e - Well Spent Youth | Main | Marco Carola - Play it Loud! »