And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.
01. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise (Circus Company)
There’s something about midnight that heightens ones senses, isn’t there? In previous years I often picked for the top spot an album that I deferred to when on the midnight commute to my little ol’ home. This album just has that midnight, distant vibe all over it. Emotion through a sense of disconnect, like you are watching events unfold in life as opposed to being part of it. Or maybe I’m just thinking this for the French cinema bits thrown in there. Jaar has this very rare sense of knowing when to use what kind of sound. And in music, that is a gift, and an important one at that. Find the right sample, find whatever makes that sound you feel you need, and then drop it at exactly the right time. Not to mention that the actual songs that come out of it are tremendous.
Tremendous certainly is that killer combo smack down in the middle of the album. The songs ‘Problems with the Sun’ and ‘Space is Only Noise If You Can See’ are such great examples of not only Jaar’s musical skills, but also how they can be turned into good songs. Sitting in the train, looking out of the window into the night, city lights the only thing you can see, faintly hearing some sort of commotion in the background, in the reflection seeing some girl study, seeing some boy dream about something or another, knowing that so much is going on in the world that I’m crossing per train, so much love, loss, hope, laughter, frustration, dreams: this album any day of the week. And twice on Sundays.
01. Nicolas Jaar - Space is Only Noise (Circus Company)
Well, here’s a surprise: two completely different lists, and the only album we agree on is our mutual nr 1 album. That must count for something, even though I haven’t seen it turn up much in other best-of-2011 lists - though that can easily be explained by our superior taste in music here at IKRS (And yes, she's kidding. But not by much. If at all. Wait, I don't think she is. Actually, I agree. Yeah. Right on Linda! - ed).
Things could easily have gone wrong for Nicolas Jaar on this album, minimalism is always a risk as with this type of music, more than any other, you have to get the balance exactly right. Leave one bleep out and you will lose the flow of the record; be a bit overly ambitious and add an instrument too many and you’re stuck with unnecessary fluff forgoing your entire raison d’être (or at the very least the chance of making a good record). But Jaar had no problems with any of those issues: every single sound on this album serves a purpose, and he got those few sounds exactly right. As such, ‘Space is Only Noise’ does require slightly more stringent listening conditions than any other album in order to fully appreciate it: it as an album especially suited for dark, lonely nights, which are pretty rare in London as it’s never fully dark here and there’s always a nutter somewhere shouting abuse. But even under those suboptimal conditions, this album has really gotten under my skin.
Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise by CircusCompany