Darkside’s Psychic is the latest collaboration from the American-Chilean electronic wunderkind Nicolas Jaar and his touring guitarist and fellow New Yorker Dave Harrington. House, deep house, Chilean chill-wave, blue wave, whatever the hell the hipsters are calling it at the moment, those versed with Jaar’s output will be on familiar ground here.
The opening track, ‘Golden Arrow’, is a melodic piece in which keys and strings in a minor key mix with disconnected voices and a deliberate death-knell bass line to form a dirge techno as dense and impenetrable as anything on Jaar’s critically acclaimed debut Space Is Only Noise. But this time round, Harrington’s clean blues lines offer the listener a way into the track to unlock its textures and riches.
As with Space…, Psychic is a work of cold beauty; a music stark and dense in its colour; its hue is of a melancholic shade. Melodies hang haunted overhead in the mix, the guitar cuts through the mist, fleeting moments of fragile understatement are underpinned by an inevitable sense of rhythm. ‘The Only Shrine I’ve Seen’ comes over like a proggy Talking Heads track and ‘Freak, Go Home’ is a minimalist techno funk; whiter, dryer and sparser than anything coming out of the DFA stable. The closing track, ‘Metatrons’, mix of guitar and keys is reminiscent of Talk Talks’ equally enigmatic Spirit of Eden.
Nicholas Jaar is kind of like the Marmite of the electronica world. If you like him, you love him; and if you don’t, you can’t for the life of you figure out what all the fuss is about. Those that found Space Is Only Noise too dense and inaccessible might find this easier to digest. For those that got it first time round, this is a new helping of the blessed polarising spread to feast on.