Space Is Only Noise
Label: Circus Company (France)
Catalog: CCS 055-2LP
2022 repress; regular LP version. Second edition with amended tracklisting (the track "I Got A Woman" has been deleted). Four years after his debut EP on Wolf + Lamb, Nicolas Jaar, the New Yorker by way of Chile returns to Circus Company with Space Is Only Noise, an uncompromising manifesto on traces of the past, love lost, and spectres of the future. Jaar has made it quite apparent over the course of his nascent catalog and increasingly sought-after live sets that challenge is an intrinsic part of his creative discourse. Few are the producers of any age with the guts to ride a sub-100-bpm tempo at peak-time in the techno Mecca of Berlin, and fewer still are those who receive an ecstatic hands-in-the-air response for their precocious efforts.
It is precisely this sense of risk which elevates Space Is Only Noise beyond the realm of valiant first effort or crossover dance music oddity. Those looking to wade through the sea of Jaar's potential influences will quickly find themselves in the deep waters of golden age Factory records, the home-spun digitalism of Mille Plateaux, Endtroducing-era DJ Shadow and Eric Satie. Jaar gently coaxes his listener into the experience from the opening sounds of rolling waves on "être," but quickly transitions into the sophisticated percussion and meandering melodies that characterize his sound. Jaar seeks, and often finds, beauty in melancholy on the first few tracks of the album. As the album begins to accelerate with "Too Many Kids Finding Rain In The Dust," Jaar confronts us with the often forgotten reality that our sadness is not mutually exclusive on the dancefloor. Suddenly, on "Keep Me There," Jaar's voice appears over the delicious, rumbling melody. Though your hips stir to the relentless bass line and the sexiness of the voices, your heart is jolted out of its luxurious malaise when horns erupt seconds later.
"How can you talk about a landscape without showing the sky and the earth?" a voice asks, translating from the French on "être." So Jaar concludes, revisiting the same track to end the album. Complete landscapes such as these are only realized in contrast -- the indulgent against the reserved, the sky against the earth; lightness and darkness. Space Is Only Noise is a tour de force with few modern equals, and a great sign of things to come from one of electronic music's most exciting producers.