Hey, everybody! It’s the Internet’s busiest music nerd here, Anthony Fantano. Sup? I hope you’re well. Here I am on my text thing again. Damn, it feels good to be a texter. Or writer. Whatever.
This time, I’m putting my thoughts on the new Nicolas Jaar EP into words. This dude is a New York electronic music producer. He dropped an album I reviewed earlier this year, Space Is Only Noise. Actually, I uploaded my review the day Radiohead’s new album came out. As a result, I think a lot of my followers might have missed out on a great album. If you somehow managed to miss Space Is Only Noise, I implore you to check it out. For me, it’s a mind-bending and genre-blending experience.
So now, months after releasing one of my favorite albums of this year, Nicolas Jaar has put out this EP, Don’t Break My Love. And these eleven minutes, my friends, are bliss. Jaar has taken the best aspects of his debut album and condensed them into two fantastic songs.
The first thing that strikes me about these tracks is they just sound like another world. It’s a world of open spaces. There’s no color here; there are only shades of gray. Every sound is quiet, every texture is soothing. The music evolves slowly, but still manages to surprise.
On the title track, record static and distant hand claps start things off slow. I would say the track isn’t even moving. The introduction is merely a display of the atmosphere the oncoming song will thrive in. Icy keyboards slither in, and there’s this sound that pops up occasionally that kinda reminds me of crumpling paper, but swirled around somehow. See, this is why I love Jaar’s music. It’s loaded with sounds that are, well, kinda inexplicable.
A haunting male vocal appears and the beat begins. By this point, the groove is in full swing, but Jaar is subtly adding more percussion to the mixture. The voices grow louder and the synths swell. But a bass drone eventually comes into the picture and the entire song disintegrates. Disintegrates!
Surprisingly, the hook to this song is stashed away at the very end. It’s packing a female vocal sample and hits my hips harder than it does my head. The bassline sounds like it’s straight out of a dub reggae tune; displaying just how many influences go into this man’s sound. The ending is tight and goes off without a hitch.
The next track, “Why Didn’t You Save Me,” is just as pleasurable. But I do wish it took a bit more time with introductions. Still, its percussion, for me, is to die for. It’s like an electronic drum circle supported by a wide array of nicely varied percussive sounds. The grooves getting pumped out are ever-changing and do so with finesse.
The manipulated falsetto vocal–which may be a female’s, not sure–haunts my soul. Then it makes me question the existence of souls in the process. Plus, the harpsichord that drops in around the 2-minute mark is enchanting. Yeah, enchanting! Yet, I find this song to be kind of creepy.
This song, like the previous one, saves its best percussion and bassline for the end. Yeah, it’s becoming a tried and true formula for Jaar, but I don’t mind hearing it again, personally–especially if it’s going to be executed with sounds this stark.
I think I’ve learned more about this dude’s trajectory as a musician by listening to these two tracks, and I’ve loved the experience. Jaar’s music does so much for me. I think it’s amazing how he builds songs with such unlikely combinations of sounds. Yet, everything seems to flow so nicely. Every moment moves slowly, but nothing ever drags on or stagnates. Listening to these tracks on the surface is just as invigorating as diving into their details. It’s music that’s both intoxicating and enlightening.
I see myself returning to these tracks with the same frequency I do Space Is Only Noise. Plus, they get me looking forward to Jaar’s future.
What do you think of this EP? Love it? Hate it? Why? What should I review next? How does it measure up to Space Is Only Noise? Are you excited about where Jaar is going as a producer?