AMANDA LAFFERTY ’21
Having been so successful with the release of Sirens and its recently revealed deluxe version, Chilean-American DJ Nicolas Jaar had taken a break from producing new material, or so people thought.
Jaar mysteriously released an album on Feb. 17 titled 2012-2017 under an underutilized moniker, A.A.L. (Against All Logic), with no promotion to fans and news outlets alike. The first and only releases under this alias were from 2014 and only consisted of a single and an EP, never a full length album.
The silent release of 2012-2017 is a testament to Jaar’s willingness to push boundaries, as he has with playing with the concept of what makes dance music, dance music.
The LP itself is an album of the year contender. It’s packed with soul and funk music samples, and it is both the vocals and instrumentation that create deliciously complex and groovy tracks.
The opener on the album titled “This Old House Is All I Have” alludes to the beginnings of house music that infiltrated cities like cities like Chicago and Detroit in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s. The track is dramatic, soulful, and so goddamn smooth. It could easily be on a 2018 version of the Paul Thomas Anderson classic Boogie Nights soundtrack because of the funky and silky sample choices Jaar makes. It is not until the last 30 seconds when Jaar’s hypnotic and airy voice permeates in soft layers, unfortunate because the vocals pair beautifully with the backing instruments.
Tracks like “Cityfade” are reminiscent of American DJ Moby’s acclaimed albums Play and 18 & 18 circa 1999 and 2002 respectively. Moby’s use of piano interludes and soulful vocal samples on his tracks such as “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” and “Rafters” infiltrates into what Jaar has produced. However, Jaar notably updates these methods by experimenting with the addition of several layers of sample types and manipulating such samples in a more extreme manner.
Most tracks are very laid-back in their dance-ability potential and create a nonchalant atmosphere, yet two stick out apart from the rest. “Hopeless” has the distinctive Jaar club-ready sound, which entails a prominent and lofty bass sound and an entrancing synthesizer sound. The quick drumbeat dances back and forth, shuffling between the left and right speaker, forcing the listener to dance into the track.
The final track “Rave on U” carries on the liveliness of “Hopeless,” ending the album in a 10 minute trance. The synthesizer noise Jaar utilizes is molded back and forth between smooth and industrial sounds, creating only vivacious moments throughout the track,
Fans can only hope Jaar will be spinning at least some of the 11 tracks on the album at future shows, though none have yet to be announced as he recently finished the last leg of his Sirens tour.