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With a dexterous form of maturity that travels way beyond his modest age of twenty-two, Nicolas Jaar has given us one of the most graceful and energetic albums of recent times, let alone 2011. The beauty of 'Space Is Only Noise' seems to be found in the way that it wears its split-personality's heart on its sleeve. At once it is fragile and unassuming, whilst simultaneously confident and eccentric; and with a sense of mischief and playfulness, whilst still maintaining an air of drama and maturity. At once light, and at the same time dark, it is an album of delicately assembled parallels and contradictions that work side by side to create that perfectly balanced middle ground.
The gentle sound of waves lapping upon a shore in the opening track 'Etre' slowly eases the listener into the down-tempo slo-mo grooves that have become Jaar's trademark. Meanwhile, vocals as disparate as French film dialogue, to the Ray Charles sample of 'I Got a Woman', on the identically named track, weave in and out to create moments of intense texture.
Throwing in a myriad of influences from techno, house, hip hop, jazz and blues, it is any wonder that the album maintains any form of direction and clarity. However, cohesion is one of the album's biggest strengths. To listen to any one of the fourteen tracks on the album alone and unaccompanied, dramatic though it may sound, would be some kind of travesty, for Jaar has masterfully crafted a true narrative that undoubtedly deserves the time, space and detachment for which it was intended."
Words by Laura Humphries