Album of the Week Interview :: Darkside
October 4th 2013
- Darkside :: Album of the Week Interview
It all began in 2011, while New York-based electronic producer, Nicolas Jaar was still attending classes at Brown University. At the time, Jaar was looking to assemble a live band so that he could take his increasingly popular brand of downtempo, minimal electronica on the road, and into a live setting.
Searching for the right bandmate, Jaar instinctively asked his college-mate and childhood best friend, Will Epstein, “who is the best musician [you] know?” With such a broad question, anything could have happened next. But Jaar trusted Epstein’s judgement— the two had practically learned to understand the world of music together. From a young age, they’d jammed on all kinds of music, from afrobeat to jazz. Jaar had improvised on the piano, and Epstein on the saxophone.
Epstein looked at Jaar, and without hesitation, begun to tell him about a bass guitarist he knew of named Dave Harrington, who also happened to be studying at Brown. A few phone calls later, the three begun jamming and experimenting together, creating the live show for Nicolas Jaar’s acclaimed debut solo LP, ‘Space Is Only Noise‘. Harrington would play the electric, rather than bass, guitar; and Epstein, the sax; with Jaar leading the ensemble from his laptop, surrounded by synths, microphones and midi controllers. Everything was falling into place.
That year, the three of them gelled famously and subsequently toured the acclaimed album across the globe— improvising from stage to stage, transforming Jaar’s laptop-produced compositions into an expansive live performances.
One night, after playing a show in Berlin, there was a moment of magic between Jaar and Harrington — which unbeknownst to the pair, would end up re-shaping their already intertwined musical lives: “We were bored and started making a song. I literally just recorded the first thing he did with his guitar after tuning it, and looped it, and that was the beginning of A1, our first song together,” said Jaar.
Shortly after that initial jam, the two formed their own musical project and named it Darkside, and as they say, the rest is history.
Together as Darkside, the two meld their contrasting musical backgrounds into a unique whole — a sound that is almost impossible to pigeon-hole, where deeply atmospheric and intricately textured electronic music meets psychedelic, rock-inspired guitar playing.
Hardly two years on from that night in Berlin, the pair have released their critically-acclaimed self-titled EP and remixed Daft Punk‘s entire ‘Random Access Memories‘ album in full, under the fitting moniker, Daftside. All the while, they have been working tirelessly on their soon to be released, debut full-length record, ‘Psychic‘, recording bits and pieces here and there across the States, from Harrington’s folk’s barn, to an apartment in central New York.
Psychic is a 45 minute journey. Not so much a collection of songs as it is a whole album, Psychic is a record whose beauty is revealed when it is experienced from start to finish.
As soon as I heard the album in it’s entirety for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a ‘concept album’; if there was a premeditated narrative running through the 45 minute composition. Jaar insists that it is exactly the opposite, saying: “It’s not a concept album at all… it’s just what happened to us for the past two years. The concepts that are in there are real things that happened to us“.
Either way, Psychic is a compelling and emotive listen that will likely be considered amongst the top albums of 2013. Filled with sonic and musical variation— and some phenomenal guitar playing (think Tom Waits meets Eric Clapton, Dave Gilmour and The Doors in a bar)— the album unfolds organically in one smooth play, but is filled with intrigue, suspense and surprise at every step along the way.
Most of all, Psychic is a record that has been produced with mind-blowing vision and accuracy. In terms of both its sound-design and musical composition, there is a real sense of balance achieved across the album which makes it such a pleasurable and compelling listen, and a journey well worth taking.
Psychic is out now via Jaar’s own Other People imprint and Modular Recordings (AUS).
Listen to the first 11 minutes of the album, ‘Golden Arrow’, here:
Psychic is FBi’s album of the week: 4.10.13 – 11.10.13