Nicolas Jaar commands a rare adoration in the electronic music world – a crossover success, loved by fans and critics, always pushing outwards towards something strange and new. While Jaar’s music has always charted between worthwhile and genuinely revelatory, his output has slowed significantly in recent years. Between his extraordinary debut album in 2011 and this new single, Jaar has formed then disbanded his group Darkside and launched a label which now charts over thirty releases. That’s a long time for fans to wait.
Yet Jaar is a dependable producer, and if there’s one thing he always manages to do it’s give listeners something they didn’t know they wanted. The narcotised disco of his early singles gave way to the tactile electronica of Space Is Only Noise, and now Nymphs II shows Jaar sculpting sound in long-form, more delicately and impressively than ever.
The two consuming tracks form a single suite, grooves and motifs gliding in and out of earshot across the fifteen minute runtime. The long intro to The three sides of Audrey and why she’s all alone now sounds like forms emerging from a pool of still water, supple and flexing, an intricate ballet of shifting strings, slight chords and strained celestial vocals. A toybox melody introduces the dense Latin-inflected rhythm at the halfway mark, building to an otherworldy finale as everything comes together, only to fade into a beautiful synth coda heavy with longing.
No one is looking at U has more of a distinct pulse, its rhythm in place throughout, again showing Jaar’s unique knack for making compelling work from such a subdued soundfield. A star-gazing melody helps the track lift off towards the close, before the arrangement dissolves back into a glistening web of treated vocals and effects.
Both tracks here are growers, requiring time to unlock the intricacy of their design. But like Jaar’s best work they showcase one of his most remarkable traits as a producer. He always gives the listener a big satisfying melody or rhythm which lifts the soul, but Jaar focuses just as much care into crafting the build-up and deconstruction of these dramatic moments, making each song a powerful trip. It’s to his immense credit that it’s tough to call which of the two parts is more compelling.