Okay, it might be a bit cliché starting a review of the long awaited DARKSIDE debut album with a Star Wars reference, but well, the wordplay is just too tempting. When Luke Skywalker asked Yoda if the dark side of the force is the better one, he negated it but says in general it’s “quicker, easier, more seductive.” And then we listen to Psychic, the first album by NICOLAS JAAR and Dave Harrington we can totally agree on the ‘seductive’-part. The long time buddies created a quite haunting and interesting first album for all fans of atmospheric electronic soundscapes.
After meeting in university Harrington joined his buddy for the live set-up of his critically acclaimed debut Space Is Only Noise in 2011. Between shows and promo dates the two started writing their own material. A first EP by the end of the same year was the result but it took them two more years to come up with Psychic. Quite a powerful record although it remains a really tender one. Still, the epic opener Golden Arrow presents itself quite almighty. The first seconds are a musical journey into the darkness. Soon, JAAR‘s soulful voice and Harringtons gentle guitar play join us on this dark path, bringing some light within this hostile environment. The guitar sound is quite bluesy, very retro-like. Could be directly taken from a FLEETWOOD MAC album as well.
This works quite fascinating in combination with the smooth electronic beats. Paper Trails is the perfect definition of this ‘electronic blues.’ JAAR‘s deep voice meets the playful blues guitar of Harrington – this is just music you need to fall for. The pumping Heart takes us deep into the nightly desert while also resulting in a quite uplifting finale with big synthesizer pads and wild guitar sounds. From haunting moments like The Only Shrine I’ve Seen to smooth electronica beats in Freak, Go Home – DARKSIDE created a fascinating musical journey. Almost like a movie score. Although the movie is obviously a dark one.
The only drop of bitterness is the fact that Psychic only lasts for eight songs. When the final echoes in Metatron fade out you’d wish you could stay a bit longer on this trip. It might be a dark one but it’s one worth to be discovered. DARKSIDE‘s interesting mixture of blues, pop and electronic offers a nice new twist on certain musical aspects you though you were already quite familiar with. So, there’s always space for discovery. Even on the dark side of life. May the force be with these two guys.