The Moods and Textures of Nicolas Jaar in Dallas
Photography: Bryan Yalta
If you were at Granada Theater on Wednesday, October 19th, either you left the place visually impaired for a good hour or visually hypnotized by the blinding strobes and aura of Nicolas Jaar. Or maybe both. The brooding electronic music of the Chilean-American composer brought an erotic pulse to Dallas, turning the sounds of experimental noise into a rhythmic mix designed for all-night clubbing. Jaar released a new album just last month on September 30th via his own Other People label. The album, Sirens, sees the musician exploring new sonic textures, providing less songs than in his previous records but also making each composition longer and more complex. The six-track album can be described as a self-immolating piece interpreted differently through each listen. The moods the songs bring out are vibrant and spacious and almost dark. Paralleling that experience, that same type of feeling was reproduced live as Jaar performed and created alienating atmospheres onto which pulsating drum beats were gradually added. He did not begin with dance tracks. In a move that seemed a bit daring, the instrumentals that he started with made sense in that it introduced what was going to be toyed with throughout the set. Different characters of sound were invented and then placed in foreign settings that hinted movement but not necessarily showed it. In other words, there was a sense of a dance track hidden behind the experimentation without it being too apparent. It was danceable music, but it was also music that made its listener focus on its structure. There was a small problem in the middle of his set, as it seemed some mics weren't working correctly, and Jaar left the stage empty for a while. But after the technical difficulties were resolved, the show went back to its stylish, somber tone. And the crowd was still pleased with the music's continuing live translation. Most people moved to each rhythmic track gyrating in the semi-obscure room like as in a nightclub. The lighting had much to do with this, too, as it was almost serious the way it was handled. Directional light pointed at Jaar dominated most of the night, but it was done in an enigmatic way that it felt the focus was more on the mood of the room than on the composer. Overall, a Nicolas Jaar show is a peculiar and intriguing experience. The combination of mood and music produced an ambiance like no other. If you ever get the chance to see him live, it's recommended. Be prepared to visually hear the lugubrious and mysterious images Jaar's tracks create.
Check out some photos from the concert below and make sure to catch Nicolas Jaar on his current 2016 North American tour.