Darkside - Psychic

This is exactitude in its grizzliest form.

Label: Other People / Matador


Nicolas Jaar has every right to be a confident so-and-so. His minimalist method felt - and still feels - like a game-changer, exhibited in debut ‘Space Is Only Noise’, which at the time came off like some grand unveiling of electronic music’s next magic trick. But don’t cosy Jaar with genres. While his craft improves, his ideas spill outwards. Anything within so much of a mile’s radius gets tied up and chopped into Jaar-sized pieces for his Darkside return, alongside guitar-fledger Dave Harrington.

The two first combined on a 2011 EP. Since then, they’ve built something grander, more sinister. Debut album ‘Psychic’ spits fireballs, struts with arrogance, paces around and spoils the scenery. It’s a record that could turn on its side at any given moment. Reduce a minute segment of a song and the whole 40-minute juggernaut would coil over and retreat back to its cave. But this is exactitude in its grizzliest form.

Together, Jaar and Harrington take on jazz, blues and standard songwriting, squeezing the life out of standard models until they’re skewed reflections of their former selves. Minimalism rules the roost, but that’s only half of the story. It can be approached with chin-stroking reverence or it can be taken as this fucked-up, cinematic, overbearing beast that could only come from the minds of lunatics.

Opener ‘Golden Arrow’ morphs from a timid, lost soul into a swaggering saw-toothed animal. In ‘The Only Shrine I’ve Seen’, vocals don’t take standard form. Instead they’re morphed and skewed until they sound like popped balloons. Guitars are half El Paso, half European church spires. It’s a Breaking Bad drug raid versus a country home burning to ashes. Without exception, there’s not a single idea roaming around this record that could’ve been conceived by anyone other than these two wild-eyed scientists.

‘Psychic’ shows off. There’s no doubting that. It’s perfectly aware of its perfect form. It’s not there to please, it’s there to indulge. But don’t let that take away from the fact that it’s a record without rival. Electronic in the loosest, most deformed sense, ‘Psychic’ rips up convention from the seams to the centre.