Nicolas Jaar - Sirens (deluxe edition)

Nicolas Jaar — Sirens (deluxe edition)

Other People, 2017


I was in Dublin when Nicolas Jaar dropped Sirens. I was listening almost exclusively to a weird combination of Welcome to the Black Parade (Mychem) and Atrocity Exhibition (Danny Brown) during my semester abroad, but Sirens seemed to fit the constant cloud cover and rainy darkness of the Dublin streets better than either of those two albums. It crept into my playlists almost without my realizing, and became a sort of late-semester soundtrack to those rainy Dublin nights where I ended up staring out the window and eating 3-euro falafel from the place on the ground floor of my apartment.

Sirens is dark, rainy, city life. It’s labyrinthine harp composition, ambient sound poetry and cryptic allusions to Chilean politics. It’s probably Jaar’s best work, as mystifying and experimental as anything he’s done, but at the same time the most pop-focused. Some of these tracks are pretty catchy, even as they challenge your assumptions about contemporary experimental composition and electronic sound at every turn. This deluxe edition adds the tracks “Wildflowers” and “America! I’m For The Birds,” along with “A Coin in Nine Hands,” which is one of the best compositions he’s ever put out.

RIYD: A.A.L, Arca, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, rainy days, Chilean political history, gorgeous modern electronic composition with an experimental bent

BEST:  1, 4, 5, 6


1. Killing Time [11:14] — Electroacoustic noise folds and unfolds for eleven minutes. Hushed vocals feel like they’re wrapping around each individual note. Gorgeous opener, a true “subtle epic.”

2. Wildflowers [5:32] — Warping electronic sound coalesces in a sensual alien slow jam.

3. The Governor [6:45] — The only thing this rock-inflected banger is missing is vocals from Julian Casablancas. This is energetic, pulsing electronic darkness.

4. A Coin In Nine Hands [8:02] — Complex and totally riveting. Kind of a banger, too.

5. Leaves [3:30] — Ambient slowness, drones in stasis.

6. No [6:34] — Hypnotic pop composition. It’s recursive and slow, but there’s this incredible depth to the sound.

7. Three Sides of Nazareth [9:55] — Energetic guitar riffs in fast-motion with sexy rockstar vocals. Jaar switches vocal and percussive registers in the last two minutes for a heavenly, blissful coda.

8. History Lesson [3:44] — AFTER 10. Old-school doo-wop influence?? But somehow still totally works on this album. In love with that last minute, too.

9. America! Im For The Birds [4:06] — I’m for the birds. Not for the cages.

Will Gottsegen