Nicolas Jaar unveils his first solo manoeuvres in half a decade with the jaw-dropping highs enveloped on Sirens.
Despite having released two albums in the five years since his startlingly original debut Space Is Only Noise, Jaar has been busy deep in the studio turning out singles for R&S, remixes of Grizzly Bear and Brian Eno for Warp, and his Nymphs series of 12"s. Also active in the long player format, he produced the heavily on rotation around these parts collab Darkside with Dave Harrington, and the Pomegranates soundtrack/album. But it's here on Sirens that Nicolas Jaar goes back to the start, venturing out with a new map of sounds pointing the direction forward.
Keeping it short and sweet, Sirens is composed of six new pieces, but what the album may lack in the volume of tracks it more than makes up in substance and style (and for those who may not be convinced, some of the greatest LPs ever contained six tracks; Spiderland, The Man Machine, the list goes on...). Opening with the delicately slow burn of Killing Time a sombre mood takes hold as Thursday Afternoon style piano keys drop over a mirage of broken glass shattering down into a swirling whirlpool. The piece coils back and springs into a vast soundscape that somewhat resembles Radiohead playing a last min gig in one of The Caretaker's haunted ballrooms.
The rest of the album follows suit with a wide variety of sounds and styles that Jaar is noted for making his own. On The Governor he smashes up the drums to create a track of rockabilly havoc that fades into his signature downtempo electronic modern classical ambience. Leaves explores the outer fringes of space station solitude before No brings it down to earth with a rolling chug reminiscent of his Nymphs dance trax. Three Sides of Nazareth & History Lesson close out the album with two variations on the above sounds that amount to some of the very best work Jaar has composed yet. Epic structures of real instrumentation, FX and electronics threaded together by the hands of someone at the top of their game.
Sirens is a truly immersive album that unfolds with the delicacy and attention to detail of a Werner Herzog film, beautifully composed in both sound & vision. Whilst it takes you deep into its world, its core is still cloaked in a mystery that will have us delving back into explore time and time again.