Nicolas Jaar’s third album of 2020, Telas, is his most experimental yet
Nicolas Jaar has been busy. Between the experimental releases under his own name and the club-influenced works under the Against All Logic moniker, Telas is Jaar’s third full-length album this year.
In February, as Against All Logic, he released 2017-2019. A phenomenal work of deconstructed club music, Jaar blasts hard-hitting industrial drums, Beyoncé samples, and blown-out breakbeat snares, sometimes all at once. In March, as Nicolas Jaar, he released Cenizas, a pensive collection of ambient tracks with wildly varied arrangements and instrumentation across the album. And in-between all of that, he’s released a variety of mixes, DJ sets, and non-album singles via livestream.
Most recently, he dropped Telas, another album released under his own name. Described as “liquid,”Telas is also accompanied by a website with generative visuals synced to audio. Similar to Cenizas, Telas thrives in ambient experimentation. On Telas, though, the focus is tightened: this is a brilliant piece of often atonal ambient music, where experimentation in sound and individual noises takes precedence over any sort of structure or form.
So many sections of Telas feature truly mind-blowing sound design. Whether Jaar is modifying a dense arrangement of out-of-tune winds set over glitchy electronica or slowly layering vocals on far-away synth runs, the soundscapes created on this record cover genuinely unexplored territory. “Telahora” opens with the former in a bombastic atonal flair, and “Telahumo,” the most melodic section of Telas, contains the latter. Signature Jaar-isms are still at play: rippling waves of undefinable noises blow through the mix, and spaced-out, heavily reverbed nonsensical vocalizations float in and out, and the texture of the noise is seemingly as important as the noise itself.
“Telallás,” the final section of Telas, is the best example of textural experimentation. Some of the sections are mixed to sound physically present; it’s like I can feel every drum strike or string pluck in my ears. A multitude of tiny chimes, glitches, and brushes whisper through the mix, too, mimicking a perverse sort of ASMR. This eventually devolves into a gentle, looping melody, which fades out into a purely atonal pitter-patter while the track dissolves around it. Intentionally inaccessible, meandering, and formless, Telas will likely be remembered as one of Jaar’s greatest compositions, if solely for the complex sonic experimentation.
Listen to Nicolas Jaar’s Telashere.