Nicolas Jaar | Thalia Hall | Dance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Nicolas Jaar

Nicolas Jaar

courtesy brixton

When: Wed., Nov. 9, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: sold out
These days I don’t pretend to have much investment in electronic music that’s primarily geared to the dance floor, but when I hear something that successfully uses tools of the trade to aim higher, I appreciate it. In the past I’ve been superimpressed by Darkside, the collaboration between guitarist Dave Harrington and electronic-music producer Nicolas Jaar, who built a reputation by slowing down or entirely erasing clubby beats, favoring instead wildly mutating, richly textured atmospheric sounds and going well beyond the usual EDM journey. Now, with Sirens (Other People), Jaar brilliantly transfers his brand of ghostly ambience into art-pop songs of his own design, employing indelible melodies crooned in his tender falsetto to create a kind of prog-rock record. The moody opener, “Killing Time,” sounds like he’s been inhaling early Pink Floyd, but the touch is light and the dynamics are sharp as Jaar deploys silence and fragility against grandeur and power—beauty trumps the beats across the entire record. On “The Governor” Jaar channels rockabilly a la Suicide, piling on chaotic beats and briefly interrupting the flow with rheumy clarinet squawks, while “History Lesson” dabbles in doo-wop-style R&B. Ultimately the striking thing is the way he weaves it all together into a big sprawling universe of sound that’s hard to leave.
— Peter Margasak
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