Brilliance can come in the most subtle of forms. Such is the case of Nicolas Jaar's highly anticipated second full length album, Sirens. The Chilean-American producer has long been an icon in the electronic an ambient scene, and the reasons why are evident in the album.
Growing up in New York with one of the world's most profound visual artists as your father is bound to serve as inspiration. Jaar grew up in dance music circles in the city, crafting a rough, hip-hop influenced array of tunes, originally as jokes just to make his mother laugh and dance. His message became clear when he released two songs featuring him singing in Spanish as a counter to the European DJs who were exposing Latin American and South American culture in exploitative fashions.
Sirens isn't an album that makes a highly political statement, but it does reveal what Jaar's culture and past mean to him. The dark and franticly dancing synths of 'Leaves' are supported by cute samples of what is presumably a young Nicolas Jaar having a family moment, as you can hear a little boy speaking Spanish to his parents. Its like a dark contrast: the darkness of life shrouded those purer, innocent memories. The ode to his heritage continues in 'No', a simpler song that builds up to a Latin beat backed by Spanish chants.
The brooding theme carries into the billowing 'Three Sides Of Nazareth', the driven synths, big beat, and interesting samples combined with the hook of "I found my broken bones on the side of the road" replaying throughout giving the song one of the strongest vibes on the record as far as energy goes. The album's closer 'History Lesson' is a dreamier song to follow 'Nazareth', building slowly into a confident ending, bubbly synths rising as a big beat and organs with guitar provide a big ending to the record, as a release to all the pressure.
Killing TimeThe darkness of the album cannot be ignored, though. The dramatic album opener is the epic, eleven minute track 'Killing Time' is full of dark, moody imagery complete with sparkling descending pianos and beautiful aesthetics. The song's even split up into three parts on certain versions of the record: 'Mirrors', 'Killing Time', and 'Sirens'. The eleven minute long journey seems to do it well, though, especially as it seamlessly segues into 'The Governor' with its groovy, surf rock samples that precede thick bassy beats and aesthetic pianos.
Nicolas Jaar's new album is prolific and keeps his heritage close without being overly political. It's beautiful aesthetics are only marred by the need to listen to the album several times to really get it - if you don't analyze it, it won't make much sense. It becomes background noise, in a sense. But it's a soundtrack of a life, and a soundtrack to a culture. Jaar's mission isn't over yet.
Favorite Track: Killing Time
Least Favorite Track: No
Rating: 77 / 100