Reviews

Against All Logic: Apocalypse Now with Nicolas Jaar

Nicolas Jaar breaks ground sonically and emotionally on his new album as Against All Logic.

Nicolas Jaar has proven time and time again that he is a powerhouse of modern electronic music, and his work as Against All Logic is no exception. His ability to combine mindful sampling and spacey otherworldliness into house and techno aesthetics has garnered him critical acclaim.

His 2018 album, 2012-2017, perfectly showcased his expert tinkering with textures and noise, and has been declared one of the best electronic albums of the past decade. His production and songwriting played a hand in molding the sound of FKA Twigs’ latest album, Magdalene, as well.

Two years later and we’re in a new decade, with the future at our feet and fearfully hanging in the balance. With this change, Jaar once again dons the Against All Logic moniker to give us 2017-2019, a collection of further house musings recorded over the past two years.

© Other People & Nicolas Jaar, 2020.

The whole album kicks off with “Fantasy”, which sounds like a 90’s house cut formulated on an industrial factory floor. Fluttering Far East chimes give way to pounding drums and R&B flavored vocal samples that show just how widespread Jaar’s influences are, and how willing he is to push the boundaries of what dance music can be. It’s an awesome opener, and truly unravels the fantasy world of the future we are about to explore.

“With An Addict” takes us on an IDM magic carpet ride, as rapid drums propel floating waves of synths far into the imagined sunset. Jaar is just as willing to make you think as he is to make you sweat with these seven minutes of jungle bliss.

Lydia Lunch, former lead singer of Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, offers her voice for the next track. The propulsive, loud and menacing “If You Can’t Do it Good, Do it Hard”, is an emphatic dance floor rager that segues perfectly into the 2-minute barrage that is “Alarm”. I dare say Nicolas Jaar gets a bit industrial here, pummeling the listener with walls of digital sound and drums that can make you dance or headbang on the drop of a dime. “Deeeeeeefers”, the next track, keeps the intensity and danceability high, showing that Against All Logic does just as the name suggests: defies the logical means to the danceable ends, giving us music that is abrasive and intimidating, yet catchy and groove-oriented all at once.

Lunch & Jaar, circa 2017

“You (Forever)”, the album’s closer, feels like the calm after the storm. The percussion tingles and electrifies, giving the feeling of digging through rubble after a natural disaster. Jaar’s fantasy land has crumbled around him, and now we’re all left to sift through the pieces. 

Maybe this sonic apocalypse shows Jaar’s own feelings on the current state of the world. Will our fantasies play out well, or will it all come falling down, leaving us with the open emptiness of a ravaged existence? Only time can really tell. We, the audience, must wait and see alongside Jaar, hopeful, yet frozen with bated breath.

2017-2019 is equal parts ecstasy, enchanting, maniacal, and mournful. It all comes together to give us a deeply introspective piece of electronic music, a call for change blended with the fearful realization that it may be too late.

Fans of Flume, Sophie and Porter Robinson will definitely enjoy this one. If you’ve never heard of Nicolas Jaar or Against All Logic, I can’t recommend his music enough. For the people still dancing at the world’s end, this one’s for you. 

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