Darkside – the duo that comprises of Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington – is one of the many projects Jaar has been involved with since his emergence as an electronic music producing prodigy in early 2010. At the ripe age of 21 (he’s now 23), Jaar received massive critical attention with the release of his pensive and intricately produced debut LP Space Is Only Noise. The charm of that specific release was its sullen, bluesy mood, in combination with its inherent dance sensibilities. The release saw Jaar lauded as an innovative genius.
Since then Jaar has teamed up for numerous side projects, created his own label (Clown & Sunset; Other People), remixed several tracks, created the most beautiful Essential Mix to ever grace the BBC radio airwaves and casually finished his degree in comparative literature at Brown, an Ivy League university.
What was the next move for the minimal electronic ‘it-man’? Make a space-rock album, of course.
Darkside sees Jaar team up with guitarist and fellow Brown student Dave Harrington. Harrington, who began as a touring member for Jaar, brings an element to Jaar’s music that hadn’t previously been explored. His inclusion creates one of, if not the most, sonically interesting release of the year; sorry Daft Punk! (Incidentally, Darkside created a really interesting reworking of Random Access Memories earlier in the year: check it out.)
The opening track of Psychic, Darkside’s first full album, is the drawn-out Golden Arrow, which is a thing of sheer beauty. It’s filled with four minutes of wholly strange combinations of synthesisers, organ and background noise. It is not until almost the five-minute mark that percussion is introduced and then the song slowly unravels, with Harrington’s jazzy guitar licks intertwining with Jaar’s extremely intriguing, blues-inspired falsetto melody.
Papertrails also combines Jaar’s almost hypnotic falsetto with a clean guitar riff from Harrington, this combined with the Jaar’s staple rhythmic percussions, create a tune that is mesmerising and infectious.
Tracks such as Greek Light and Metatron make particularly great use of vocal samples. The latter’s combination of atmospheric fuzz, ominous synth, piano, droney guitar and the high pitch sample is a particular standout moment on the album.
Psychic is an album filled with house beats and tight guitar licks and it’s in the combination of these two polarising elements that Darkside have created something truly special. The grand nature of the album has drawn numerous comparisons to Pink Floyd and their expansive sound. Maybe, unknowingly, Darkside have drawn on Darkside Of The Moon – or maybe even knowingly. Regardless, this album is one of the most interesting and original releases of the entire year. It’s far out, man.