mon 02/08/2021

Album: Darkside - Spiral | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Darkside - Spiral

Album: Darkside - Spiral

Nicolas Jaar embraces melodies while keeping things decidedly mellow

Darkside: Trippy yet mellow psychedelia

Darkside is not a particularly original name for a band. In the late '80s and early '90s, it was a tag used by escapees from the infighting between Jason Pierce and Sonic Boom in Spacemen 3, as well as being taken on by at least one drum and bass crew in the '90s.

However, it is now being given another airing by electronic ambient explorer Nicolas Jaar and multi-instrumental experimentalist Dave Harrington for their psychedelic two-piece.

Almost a decade since their debut (and only other album), Darkside have put Covid downtime to good use by producing a mellow and laidback album which gives off similar vibes as Air and John Martyn might, if they’d ever gone into the studio together. For while there are tunes, singing and even acoustic guitars, there is also plenty to link Spiral to Jaar’s last solo album, the particularly woozy Telas.

Spiral begins with something akin to a Chinese zheng being played alongside sampled plainsong, before an occasional shuffling groove, fuzzy guitar and a bit of violin join the stew. It’s all very chilled but it’s also not long before some decidedly danceable fare also makes itself known. “The Limit” is sunny and hip-swinging, “Lawmaker” has a totally hypnotic groove, while “Inside Is Out There” comes on like a dub remix of an old acid jazz tune. “I’m the Echo” even has shades of José González’s band, Junip, while “Liberty Bell” is a reminder of Ultramarine’s summery folktronica.

Darkside’s keenness to explore all the trippy sounds available to their sampler even sees them explore Syd Barrett territory with “The Question Is to See It All” and the Yes end of prog rock with “Only Young”. However, this constant jumping between different shades of psychedelia is far from distracting, and actually makes for an engaging and pleasantly relaxing experience that we could all use.

A laidback album which gives off similar vibes as Air and John Martyn might, if they’d ever gone into the studio together

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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