Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Nicolas Jaar
Technical difficulties are always a bummer at festivals, especially at this year's Pitchfork fest because the rain is already throwing everybody for a loop. Nicolas Jaar might have suffered the most so far this weekend, having to sit tight while the sound crew troubleshot a faulty chord. Standing, somewhat, idly by, the problem was eventually sussed out and remedied.
Looking like a member of the jazz elite in shades and long sleeves—all black—he played it as cool as the bluesy, improvisational genre to which his slow-burning techno owes so much credit. A comparative lit major at Brown, Jaar's an intellectual guy. As such, his music shares absolutely nothing in common with pop structure, preferring instead to stretch out at great length. If you weren't paying close attention, you might have thought his truncated set was one long song. The band, which included a sax man and guitarist, finessed its way through five minutes of atmospheric build up before dropping the first beat.
If U.K. dubstep artist Joker can christen his music "purple," Jaar could easily brand his mellow dance sound "blue." Echoing guitar often took a melodic lead while dub treatments and a distant sax line added additional texture to the dominant midtempo groove. Where Jaar's own processed vocals didn't work, gospel soul samples often provided the needed vibe.
And this is very much vibe music. Working in piano lines while also triggering modifications to the rhythm, Jaar massaged in the pitter patter of hand claps, bass throbs and stems cut from his last record, including the title track "Space is Only Noise," each reworked into new contexts. It's reminiscent of the post-rock jazz of Chicago band Tortoise, if only they listened to more house music. Since that's not likely to happen any time soon, it's a good thing we've got someone like Nicolas Jaar.