Darkside – Paper Trails



Nicolas Jaar’s music is often filed under a sort of semi-acoustic restrained techno, reinforced by Jaar’s own claim of having Chilean techno producer Ricardo Villalobos as prime inspiration. But I’ve always felt as if his composition would benefit of stretching out more and explore grounds outside of its enclosed, self-contained environment. It’s almost as if his solo work lacks some crucial external ingredient to hold it all together. But as part of the duo Darkside, together with guitar and bass player Dave Harrington, Jaar’s scattered components suddenly finds purpose.

On “Paper Trails”, the follow-up to the spiraling 11 minute “Golden Arrow”, the duo explores the chemistry between organic and synthetic textures in a fascinating way. The beauty of “Paper Trails”, as well as “Golden Arrow” is that it still sound wholly as Jaar, but whereas Jaar’s compositions exists inside the context of techno, – albeit weird and leftfield – these creations are more fluently earthbound, embracing delicate traces of blues and soul. It’s perhaps my own trail of though, but “Paper Trail” brings to mind mid-80’s Tom Waits, yet it nowhere near tells the whole story. Jaar’s chilly textures dance around Harrington’s organic grooves, while still leaving plenty of space in-between. A bone-shattering sub-woofer underlines Jaar’s deep baritone vocals, while looped plucking guitars meet crispy clear handclaps and faint synthesizers that effectively blur the line between digitals and acoustics. The result confirms everything I know about Nicolas Jaar; that he’s basically a genius. But as part of Darkside, Harrington provides the necessary missing pieces needed to fully realize his massive potential.

Darkside’s Psychic is out October 8 via Other People and Matador. Preorder here.

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