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Other People

Nicolas Jaar ‎– Cenizas

$60.00

Other People

Nicolas Jaar ‎– Cenizas

$60.00

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Now that Cenizas is here, the timings perhaps make sense. From Jaar's early releases on Wolf + Lamb, to Space Is Only Noise, the album that made his name, right through to 2017 - 2019, the contrast and relationship between seemingly opposing sounds has been a constant in his work. Could this also apply to two full-lengths realised under different names? Cenizas is truly an antithesis of 2017 - 2019. The chain of ideas that led me to knowing-jesus.com was inspired by how slow, solemn, devotional and choral Cenizas often is. "Vanish" sets this tone as the opening track, where what could be a pipe organ precedes Jaar's choir-like vocal. There's also the album's acoustics, with recordings seemingly made in chambers or churches. Jaar could be haunting a crypt on "Cenizas." His voice meets cold, damp air and expands in reverb, an electric piano his only friend in the dark.

 

We haven't had a full-length this sedate since the alternate soundtrack Jaar recorded for Sergei Parajanov's 1969 film The Colour Of Pomegranates, but it's important to note that Cenizas includes some of the strangest sound design he's produced. The question often seems to be: "How can I soothe and unsettle you?" A noise artist would have been stoked to generate a tone as bizarre as that of "Menysid," although it's assuaged by steady drones and voice. "Gocce" means "drops" in Italian, which is as close as you might come to describing the noise that heavily features on the track. The guitar remains calm but the piano can't help but catch the vibe of the drops thingy, expressing itself through erratic glissandos. A similar interplay between instruments known and unknown is at the heart of "Xerox," as piano mingles with spindly sonics. Jaar chants ritualistically over enveloping drones, one of the few times Cenizas appears dramatic and fully animated.

 

I wouldn't necessarily say Cenizas is challenging, but listeners accustomed to Jaar's more smooth and structured early work may need to persevere as he leads them through this freeform landscape. There are points along the way, however, that will seem more familiar or traditional—perhaps a mood reminiscent of a past album or a more upfront vocal performance. "In the words of a prophet, sunder," Jaar says on "Sunder," one of the only times lyrical content can be discerned. His spoken verses on blood, sin, saints and revenge are at odds with one of the album's most inviting melodies, a line that could have featured on the recent FKA Twigs album, MAGDALENE, which Jaar principally produced. The deeply psychedelic "Mud" along with "Faith Made Of Silk," which sounds like it was made by Nigel Godrich for Radiohead, are the only instances of drums leading the way. Both are superb and temporarily ground an album that for most of its 54 minutes is suspended in atmospheres rich with portent and potentiality.

 

Cenizas is an LP of significant gravitas from an artist with among the largest and most engaged followings in electronic music. It's therefore perhaps natural to reflect on how it might be processed and understood in this moment of global anxiety. We may currently turn to culture to reassure us or offer us simplifications of reality, and in these respects Cenizas provides more questions than answers. My personal feeling is that's exactly why it's equal to Jaar's best work (Sirens, Space Is Only Noise), a set of artistic decisions that—while very different—are as ambitious and fully realised as those of 2017 - 2019; others, however, may find the energy needed to engage with its mystery less appealing. To those people: perhaps begin with "Garden" and go from there. This has to be the prettiest piece Jaar has ever written, and it consists of little more than a sanguine piano phrase. It's here that the enigma of Cenizas and thoughts of the future may soften, as the sublimity of the present moment rushes in. – Resident Advisor

Label: Other People ‎– OP055-2LP

Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition

Country: US

Released: 25 Sep 2020

Genre: Electronic

Style: Minimal, Ambient, Modern Classical