Max Bell choo-choo-chooses you.
Not every Nicolas Jaar release is deeply, inexplicably resonant, but all are distinctive, wholly and uncompromisingly his own. He doesn’t crib from contemporaries, though I’m sure he’d rework a Zaytoven beat better than Jay Electronica jocked the Migos flow. Compare his solo work to any Darkside track. Even with Dave Harrington’s psychedelic chords, the mood and groove belong to Jaar.
Jaar’s collaborative project Just Friends finds him alongside Sasha Spielberg, daughter of the famed director, screenwriter, and producer Criterion-Collection-pseudo-cinephiles deride. The duo’s first release was a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche” (below the jump), featured on the very necessary Clown & Sunset compilation Don’t Break My Love. Their latest is “Don’t Tell Me,” which will be pressed to 10” vinyl for Record Store Day, one of few commercial holidays worth celebrating.
The melancholy of “Avalanche” is still present, but the delivery on “Don’t Tell Me” is markedly different. Whereas “Avalanche” was brooding and atmospheric, stretching the space between sounds, “Don’t Tell Me” is ’90s R&B filtered through Jaar’s swirling, downtempo bounce.
Spielberg’s voice works well confined to a few short lines. Her breathy croon is compacted, chopped and filtered at Jaar’s whim. And, in the age where messages — text, e-mail, or otherwise — often end in exclamation marks or emojis (I’m guilty too), the words ‘don’t tell me everything bad’ are apt and rightfully discomfiting.
Jaar’s gift of making the electronic feel organic, so penetratingly visceral is on full display. The guitar glides. The claps, snares, and synths bounce off one another with atomic charge and regularity. This is not for ruminative hours in your room (see Space is Only Noise). Jaar remains inimitable in his ability to deceptively move in and out of the groove. You will nod your head before you’ve realized you’re doing so. Play “Don’t Tell Me” as you imbibe mind and/or mood altering substances/liquids with friends attempting to drown out denial and disillusion with the beat.
Record Store Day is April 19th. Go out. Buy this or buy something else or don’t.