Nick, San Francisco 03/31/2014
Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington come together for one of the best electronic albums of 2013. They know how to arrange the deep, beautiful atmospheric and ambient tones that can have you swaying from side to side and dancing like there’s no one around.
Darkside is the latest project from Nicolaas Jaar, avant-massive of the chill-but-experimental sector of contemporary EDM, and Dave Harrington, who had initially joined Jaar as multi-instrumental live support during the touring for Space Is Only Noise, his 2011 debut. Along the way, Harrington and Jaar began writing music together, and this is the result, three years down the pipe since Jaar put out his one and only long player of original compositions (he's filled the time with remixes both single-ready and album length). Darkside is basically Jaar + guitar at its most reductive. Slow elegant rhythms dance like illuminated silk handkerchiefs in slow motion, twisting organically, even swinging, at an ancient cyclopean speed. The guitar is both atmospheric and leading, occasionally even getting blues-riffy over the chilly electronic atmospherics. The vocals, mostly abstract without the aid of a lyric sheet, are sometimes like tiny fearful operas, rich quivering falsetto hovering in the space the music leaves open, darting from cavern to cavern until they sneak up behind you becoming a vocoder deepened croon, a demon doing a Chris Isaak impression. There are definitely elements of Isaak's Lynch-ian blues as well as the stylized kitsch of a band like the Lounge Lizards, turning the nightmare tropical, sad entropic decadence. Smooth AND weird, which is an achievement.