Nicolas Jaar


Sirens

2016

Genre: Electronic

Style: Downtempo, Modern Classical

Label: Other People

Review taken from Nina Corcoran’s review over at Consequence of Sound>

The truth is, our country isn’t in the middle of hearing sirens: We’re all busy ringing them, flicking switches, repositioning the flashing lights in hopes that an answer, a savior with the calm of a therapist and the levelheadedness of someone not at the top rungs of political power, will arrive. We’re calling for help, frequently on another individual’s behalf. By looking outward at humanity on Sirens, Jaar looks deeper at himself, the six songs weird examples of dysmorphia where the ally he wishes to be — aiding others in their fight for justice — reveals its true form, Jaar becoming starkly aware of his deep-rooted hopelessness and that his privileges are part of the problem.

Sirens is Jaar’s most political album yet, but doesn’t shove that perspective down listeners’ throats. Opener “Killing Time” spans 11 minutes, much of which is divvied up by silence, flags waving in the wind, and mirrors shattering. A somber piano melody sings to itself, intercepted by sharp electronic bolts and the residue of sonic splicing, Jaar singing about the connection between police murders and the “murdering” of time in failing to change that. Once the double-time electronic thumbs of “The Governor” kick in, he plunges into a need for improvisational dance. “All the blood’s hidden in the governor’s trunk/ They keep you in a hall with all of your ilk,” he sings, going on to compare the government to a blind dealer and consumers as wide-eyed addicts, all placed in a hallway where echoes of praise override thoughts of guilt. Jaar is caught in his own head of failed justice. His political bent mocks: Forget what happened, smile, and see the reflections of the collapsing world through a tear. A saxophone jumps into free jazz to spike the jittery percussion — all drum fills and hi-hat taps — until it subsides in favor of somber piano chords, the album’s theme music used to provoke reflection, the beginnings of resistance and rebuttal smoldered. His repeated note on “No” that “You don’t have to see the future to know what’s coming” feels so natural.