Nicolas Jaar is a musician who is only held back by the constraints he sets on himself. While that might be self help book spiel 101, it is certainly true of the always-evolving Chilean-American composer. As a result it’s impossible to second guess the producer’s next move so the surprise release of ‘2012 - 2017’ under his Against All Logic (A.A.L.) moniker is decisively on-brand.
What maybe isn’t on brand, though, is the material within. ‘2012 - 2017’ is one hour and seven minutes of sample-heavy dance tracks — eleven in total. Those who are deeply inquisitive about music will have a field day on WhoSampled finding vocal stems from David Axelrod, The Delfonics and Kanye West.
Those who aren’t interested in that will still find an album which has an instant impact as Jaar substitutes avant-garde dystopian techno with the most off kilter time signatures for something much more predictable. Or more specifically, as predictable as Nicolas Jaar could ever be. Drums kick in places where they sound like they belong and snares snap where you’d expect them to. It’s still done with Jaar’s machinelike precision it’s just this time it’s possible to dance to, and that’s great.
Opening track ‘This Old House Is All I Have’ can be construed as a precursor for everything that follows as much of 2012-2017 conforms to many of house music’s tropes. Obviously it’s not as straightforward as that though, ‘Rave On U’ ploughs its way through stabbing, icy synths as if it were a Zomby cut while ‘Such a Bad Way’ and ‘Hopeless’ are somewhere between Azari and III and Hercules & Love Affair.
Standout track ‘Know You’ is the most accessible — a Motown vocal line that can be easily sang and a commanding beat that is just as easy to move to. It’s a song best described as ‘fun’ and more often than not that’s exactly what ‘2012 - 2017’ is — fun.
Words: Matthew Cooper
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