Thursday, January 19, 2012

SPACE IS ONLY NOISE - Nicolas Jaar (2011)

One of the most praised electronic records of 2011, clocking in at #30 on 's year-end aggregate list, the self-released Space Is Only Noise is Chilean-American dance producer Jaar's full length debut.

01/18/2012 - Second Listen Impressions: I have to admit I didn't get much from this record on first pass, the songs are slow and I had my kids with me in the car,  but my second listen going into work this morning was quite a revelation.

Consistently stripped down, leisurely, and always evoking a solitary, well after midnight feel (If you're scoring a movie, and you need a song for the scene where the lonely bar keep closes up shop on his own...just about any track on this record will do.), this is one of the most engaging and dynamic electronica albums I've heard in some while.  

A big part of the reason is Jaar's willingness to shake free of electronica's limited palate.  Unlike most electronic releases, glitches, samples, and synths are only part of the equation here.  Much of the material also incorporates more traditional instrumentation (drums, piano, guitar), lending the record a far broader range of textures and moods.  That, and a ton of odd, sometimes playfully goofy, vocal samples.

I hear snippets of Matthew Dear, avant-garde-ers Matmos, and on the title track, LCD Soundsystem...but the artist I'm most reminded of is career-prime Moby. As on  Moby's best work, Space Is Only Noise plays as a wide ranging collage of textures and musical thought experiments, each accompanied by a distinctly different vocal presence.  It's going to take me the full six listens to nail down how I feel on the individual tracks, but my guess is Space Is Only Noise will place quite high in my final year-end rankings, when and if I ever do wrap them up.

Projected Status: Strong Recommend.

Cherry Pickers Best Bets after two listens: Problem With The Sun, Almost Fell, Balance Her In Between Your Eyes, Specters Of The Future.

Here's a cool profile video that contains live snippets of several of the album's songs.

Component Breakdown after two listens:
1. Etre - 6
2. Colomb - ?
3. Sunflower - ?
4. Too Many Kids Finding Rain In The Dust - ?
5. Keep Me There - ?
6. I Got A - ?
7. Problem With The Sun - 8
8. Space Is Only Noise If You Can See - 8
9. Almost Fell - 8 or 9
10. Balance Her In Your Eyes - 8 or 9
11. Specters Of The Future - 8
12. Trace - ?
13. Variation - ?
14. ^Tre - ?
Intangibles - High
Listen on Spotify / I-Tunes

What are your thoughts on Nicolas Jaar's Space Is Only Noise?

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