May 23, 2012

America lacks an institution on par with the BBC1 Essential Mix. Sometimes bands of bearders pop up on Morning Becomes Eclectic, but they usually only play a few songs to soundtrack 9 a.m. binges on craisin scones. We stick to the pastries, they create their own tradition in which every notable artist (and the Swedish House Mafia) drops gems on them.  The concept was actually spawned in America, but in those primordial pre-Skrillex days, there was little national interest in electronic music other than those kids at your college who emerged from K binges to periodically proclaim that “Oakenfold was God.”

Nicolas Jaar is nominally American. He was born in New York but raised largely in Chile and his aesthetic is continental in the way that the world used to send star scholars to Europe for intellectual polish. He’s not doing so bad for himself, attending Brown and still just 22.  When he’s not fusing downtempo trip-hop, Afro-jazz, avant-garde classical, and pop , he’s kicking it with the daughters of famous Hollywood celebs. Over the last year, he’s collaborated with Scout LaRue (daughter of Bruce and Demi) and Sasha Spielberg (daughter of that Senor Spielbergo fellow). Inevitably, he gets court-side seats to Laker games, excused from parking tickets, and invented the “Slow Down” dance. He’s good.

The beauty of the BBC1 mix is that offers explanation without words. No need to respond to the ponderous interview questions about inspirations and influences. The proof is in the (Electric) prunes. Jaar drops a two hour mix of stunning Gauloise grooves. Between his collaborations with starlets and his sultry slinking style, Jaar almost seems to be channeling Serge Gainsbourg. Then you remember that he’s a 90s baby and grew up with N’ Sync and Beyonce on every station. They’re scattered in the mix too, alongside The Field, Ricardo Villalobos, jazz (Charlie Mingus), Japanese film soundtracks, soul (Marvin Gaye) and 60s rock re-worked (The Electric Prunes, The Grass Roots).

Of course, there are healthy slabs of new Jaar and other artists who have recorded for his Clown & Circus imprint. Not only is the ultimate effect produce a beautiful and bizarre stream of music, it’s a reminder of how fast Jaar has synthesized everything. Rather than show off the contents of his iPod, his Essential Mix reveals the skeleton. Bill Callahan cracks on “America” (also remixed in here), “America, you are so grand and golden.” This may be true, but we still haven’t figured out what’s essential.



NICOLAS JAAR :: BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix

01. Nicolas Jaar & Maceo Plex – Gravy Train (Nicolas Jaar Remix) [Get Physical Music]
02. Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise [Clown & Sunset]
03. Laxx & Farkas – Creature
04. Nicolas Jaar – Don’t Break My Love [Clown & Sunset]

05. Angelo Badalamenti – Conversation On Twin Peaks [Warner Bros]
06. The Brothers Four – Greenfields [Columbia]
07. Jay-Z – My First Song (Acapella) [Roc-A- Fella]
08. Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood [NONESUCH]
09. Los Ángeles Negros – Tu Y Tu Mirar… Yo Y Mi Cancion [Harmless]
10. LaShun Pace – It’s Me Oh Lord (Acapella Praise) [Shanachie]
11. Jonny Greenwood – Open Spaces [NONESUCH]
12. Pearson Sound – Footloose [Pearson Sound]
13. The Electric Prunes – Holy Are You (There Is No God Edit) [Reprise]
14. Aphex Twin – Ziggomatic 17 [WARP]
15. Keith Jarrett – Tokyo, November 14 (Encore) [ECM Records]
16. My Girl And Me – Always Back To You (feat. Lorraine) [Unknown]
17. Vera November – Last Night Together (You’re Coming Back Edit) [Rough Trade]
18. Nikita Quasim – L’amour L’après Midi [Clown and Sunset]
19. Nikita Quasim – The Way I Felt Today [Clown and Sunset]
20. Feist – Caught A Long Wind [Polydor]
21. Shigeru Umebayashi – Yumeji’s Theme (In The Mood For Love) [In The Mood For Love OST, Higher Octave OmTown]
22. *NSYNC – It Makes Me Ill (Edit) [JIVE]
23. Unknown – Unknown
24. Charles Mingus – Myself When I’m Real [IMPULSE]
25. Bill Callahan – America! [DRAG CITY]
26. The Field – The Little Heart Beats So Fast [Kompakt]
27. Sneaky Sound System – Always By Your Side (Nicolas Jaar Remix) [Modular]
28. Just Friends – Avalanche [Unknown]
29. Pavla + Noura – Don’t Owe Me A Thing [The Prism, Clown and Sunset]
30. Acid Pauli – La Voz Tan Tierna [Clown and Sunset]
31. Igor Wakhevitch – Taddy’s Dream: Ramallah’s Road [Pathé Marconi EMI]
32. Nikita Quasim – Derridu [Unknown]
33. Beyoncé Knowles – 1+1 [Columbia]
34. Anouar Brahem – Vague / E La Nave Va [ECM]
35. Rio Grande – Let’s Groove (Tonight Edit) [Unknown]
36. Gonzales – Manifesto [Sunnyside]
37. The Grass Roots – Let’s Live For Today (Learn To Live Edit) [Dunhill]
38. Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues (Sk Edit) [TAMLA]
39. Man Friday – Real Love (The Paradise Garage Mix) (feat. Larry Levan) [Nite Grooves]
40. DJ Slugo – What That Do [Subterranean Playhouse]
41. Ricardo Villalobos – What You Say Is More Than I Can Say [Playhouse]
42. Untitled – Untitled [Unknown]
43. Nicolas Jaar – The Student [Wolf & Lamb]

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