February 21, 2017

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If anonymity is often a marketing crutch for producers without personality, give Nicolas Jaar plenty of credit. He’s radiating with ideas, but completely eschews interviews, public pronouncements, and social media bombardments. We once spoke on the phone, but I sensed he seemed more comfortable discussing his thesis at Brown (Faulkner contrasted with Derrida), than anything remotely resembling his personal life. He has personality, but prefers not to share it with the masses. He’s the rare one gifted enough to let the music speak for him.

His entire artistic approach runs incongruous to whatever you’re supposed to do: incessantly brand yourself, partner with willing corporations, and build your star until you crash and burn in fiery dissolution, with your own shoe line turning into sulfur while still on your feet, Wicked Witch of the Kanye¬†West-style. Instead, Jaar has played aesthetic rope-a-dope, temporarily dissolving Darkside, remixing Daft Punk and Fat Joe, scoring antique Armenian cinematic gems, and making hyper-abstract to the point of ambient albums when he’s not redeeming trip-hop (without ever being so gauche as to use that ascription). It would seem to be (wait for it) Against All Logic.

While the music remains consistent, the directional shifts are perennially oblique. If there’s a through line to all his projects, it’s to upend expectations and find a syncretistic way to reconcile clashing ideas and sounds. Derrida and Faulkner becomes disco and fragments of melody. Under the Against All Logic disguise, Jaar has quietly (allegedly) dropped a series of singles over the last four years, culminating in this hour-plus mix that he dropped last fall.

There is no tracklist and I’m not entirely certain it’s Jaar, but the drums seem to give it away. The mix is alternately dyspeptic and euphoric, a swirling tangle of conflicting weather patterns and psychic wormholes. The New York producer makes confusion seem clarion but can disrupt ephemeral moments of bliss just as easily. Hence, a pseudonym that suggests the Hail Mary of achievement, a shot going on before the clock expires, making it work against the usual expectation.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a phenomenal mix and he beat Yachty by a cool two years in the naming songs after the ex-home of Paul Wellstone (RIP).

 

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