On the 27th and 28th of July Fabric nightclub saw the return of the young mastermind producer Nicolas Jaar. At the unbelievable age of 21 Jaar has made a huge impact on electronic music and since releasing his critically acclaimed debut album ‘Space Is Only Noise’ in February, he has become an underground phenomenon.
Following the success of his album and the development of his live band, his genre spanning sound innovations have been exploited on the main stages at Glastonbury and Sonar as well as a long line of prestigious venues and clubs around the world. What’s more amazing is that he manages to squeeze all this in while studying for a degree at university. His intelligent and measured approach to production has sent audiences clambering to experience his award-winning live set.
Since catching some of Jaar’s live show at Glastonbury I have been looking forward to coming to fabric to find out whether this fad of slower tempos and sparser beats are suitable for a club environment. I have to say that I have never stepped foot in Fabric on a Wednesday night and did find it rather strange being in London’s finest sound emporium on a school night. That said room 1 was as charged as ever and Jaar’s late arrival on stage added to the crowd's high expectations. The band consisted of drums, saxophone, guitar, electric guitar and Jaar on Keys, vocals and various other gismos.
The set started with a slow pulsating beat that grew into a hypnotic ensemble of Middle Eastern rhythms and warm thickly layered bass lines. For the next 20 minutes the band teased the audience by continuously speeding up the tempo before bringing it back down and floating into a new rhythm. At this point the audience were in the palm of their hands, and as ‘Variations’ diffused from the previous track, the audience woke up dispelled from their trance and erupted into a wave of noise and movement. From this point onwards Jaar and his band played out the rest of the set as though it was a mix, with only one or two breaks for the audience to show their appreciation.
It takes reflection to fully grasp how well Jaar controls his audience. He was always particularly good at this as a DJ, but his live show has enabled him to create a richer sound with finer details, in turn creating more depth and control. He is the charmer and the audience his snakes, moving in the direction and speed he desires. The difference is that Jaar has more than one instrument as well as assistants supporting his magic. The results are devastating and as much as I don’t like to be a supporter of hype, praise must be given when it is deserved and Jaar is one of the rare performers who deserves all the positive praise he receives. Some critics have said that this music is no longer suitable for a club environment, however I fully disagree. I felt that he seemed far more comfortable on stage at fabric than he did on the huge West Holt Stage at Glastonbury. The more subtle sounds that normally resonate in a club are lost in open air and the less compact crowd have more audio and visual information around them to distract from the sounds and performance on stage.
Many people believe that digital music will be the death of the instrument. I completely disagree. Jaar is just one of the growing number of producers who are converting digitally produced music to analogue and instrumental music. Although we are in the hay day of the DJ, audiences are starting to appreciate the extra dimension a live performance gives to music that has been created on a computer. Acts such as Nicholas Jaar that are developing new platforms for their live performances will inspire producers to develop their own DJ performances in turn aiding the evolution of music.
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