Darkside – “Spiral” (Matador)
A word that should activate the immediate escape reflex in the majority of readers: “Jam-Band.” Groups like Phish or The Dave Matthews Band have given the genre a very bad reputation. The term is synonymous with very long concerts, self-exciting instrumental solos, good humor and a great lifestyle.
Despite this notoriety, Darkside refer to themselves as a jam squad. The two members of this project are actually playing music which is actually very far from the cliché genre mentioned above. As an artist, Nicolás Jaar offers almost all types of electronic music. From the spherical electronica of his debut “Space Is Only Noise” to the microtonic ocean of LP “Telas,” released last year, to the ruthless deep house attacks of his alter ego against all logic. Dave Harrington is a trained jazz drummer who, if he wants, can ramble for hours – but he doesn’t intentionally do so in his avant-garde jazz band Dave Harrington Group. Both musicians place more importance on atmosphere than craftsmanship in their art.
Fortunately, Darkside’s self-imposed “jam squad” character has more to do with the way they work together than with aesthetics. Jaar and Harrington first worked together in 2011 on the Space Is Only Noise tour. After a short time, the two musicians began working together. They improvised with each other in long sessions – and inspired each other. Darkside was born. Her 2013 debut “Psychic” is a modern classic, a deceptively hybrid marvel of space rock, funk and electronica.
An existential crisis while walking at night
“Spiral”, the long-awaited successor, is also the result of various jam sessions. Just like its predecessor, this is a psychedelic surprise bag with great attention to detail: the long tracks, adorned with subtle polyphony and dozens of synthesizer layers, are the perfect soundtrack for existential crisis as you walk at night. Once again, the duo masters the balance between stress and dreaming. Harrington’s surprisingly blue guitar provides an essential counterpoint to Jara’s space travels.
However, what the Spiral lacks compared to its predecessor, are the focused thinkers. Even the shortest songs on the album, like the slow-motion single “Liberty Belle,” turned out to be multi-part, unfortunately somewhat sloppy mini-epics. These always have magical moments – like the rhythms of kitchen appliances in “The Question To See It All,” the dusty slide guitar in “Liberty Belle” or the multi-tempoature herb in “Inside Is Out There.” But to get to those moments, you have to be patient – and put up with some excursions.
Release: July 23, 2021
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