New York’s Nicolas Jaar doesn’t make music for dancefloors, but he still wants you to dance. Formerly under the umbrella of New York dance label Wolf + Lamb, he’s fed a penchant for slo-mo, sub-100bpm club sets into an arresting, masterful new album, Space Is Only Noise, that blends Erik Satie inspired pianos with barely-there beats, minimalist, bluesy vocals, polyglot spoken word samples and an atmosphere of stark, pervading void-like infinity that reflects the title track’s mantra: ‘Space is only noise if you can see.’

‘If you listen to all the music in the world, probably only one percent is as fast as dance music,’ says Jaar. ‘The music that comes out of human beings normally is closest to the rhythm of the heart, and the feet follow the heart.’

The son of Chilean visual artist Alfredo Jaar, Nicolas spent his early years in Santiago, Chile. The world music vibe stamped through Space Is Only Noise comes from elsewhere – life in Chile was ‘Not that different. I always say to people that Chile is not a jungle: we were listening to Queen, not pan pipes. There’s McDonalds and Burger King and British beers. It’s pretty sad.’

Jaar’s defining cultural moment was stepping off the aeroplane in New York to begin a new life in the States, aged nine. ‘Everything was completely different,’ he says. ‘If anything, my music represents me trying to find the feelings attached with being a Chilean New Yorker.’

Jaar began producing aged 14. Now 20, he’s a student of comparative literature at Brown, the Ivy League university in Rhode Island, where he creates his singular music during term time, runs his Clown and Sunset label and promotes both internationally during breaks. He’s currently rehearsing with a live band – Jaar plus guitar, drums and saxophone – that will render Space Is Only Noise as ‘a more organic version of the album, with more mistakes.’

It’s a double-life of sorts – fellow students aren’t aware of his music career, but Jaar has no desire to be a star. ‘I don’t want it to be about me,’ he says. ‘I want it to be a totally subjective, personal experience for the listener. This is not supposed to be a self portrait.’

 

LISTEN TO  Keep Me There

Text: Dan Stubbs
Pictures: www.myqua.com

 
 


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