Whilst it seems Nicolas Jaar has been laying low in recent times, the Chilean-American composer has been expanding his creative capacity. Whether it’s creating film soundtracks, taking an art residency at Het HEM in Amsterdam or helping produce one of the albums of the year – 'Magdalene', with FKA Twigs – It seems his new hobbies have brought about a change in direction. His last record under the alias Against All Logic was met with universal praise; this time round, Jaar is pushing his boundaries into unknown territory, something that ‘2017-2019’ does to say the least.
Opener ‘Fantasy’ is a mix of digital distorted noises. Featuring sampled vocals from… Beyoncé. A surprising choice but Nicolas is clearly a fan, having sampled her before in the past for his Essential BBC mix. Taken from the classic track ‘Baby Boy’, it’s layered over a crackling sound with broken beats playing in the background. It’s all hard to place, similar to a Burial record, but it works well. Next track ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’ is the closest you’ll find to a classic Jaar tune, as he switches up soul samples over floaty house beats.
Whilst the first few songs here feel like known territory, this takes a turn halfway through. ‘If spiked through with sporadic electronic sounds. Lydia Lunch – the only feature on the album – then appears, violently exclaiming: “If you can't beat 'em, kill 'em / If you can't kill 'em, fuck 'em." It’s unclear what her vitriol is directed at, but the energy she brings is compulsive.
The two tracks that follow continue with the same intensity albeit with their own fresh takes on sound and what it can achieve. ‘Alarm’ brings with it a disjointed clanking, before a kick floor beat comes in, while ‘Deeeeeeefers’ – which feels appropriately named – is five minutes of warped, out of control techno.
Techno influences echo through later on in the project, but to a different extent. The track 'Penny' mixes the tuneful sounds of lo-fi house with a heavy thumping beat that appears halfway through. The closer ‘You (forever)’ brings a serene, meditative ending, the album's only real moment of calm, which seems to hark back to 2011’s debut 'Space Is Only Noise'.
Jaar shows signs of evolving here, and it’s more than welcome. For a record that feels chaotic at times, everything falls into place.
Words: Joe Hale
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