Album Review
Darkside - Psychic Album Cover

Darkside - Psychic

Reviewed by
Record Label: Matador/Other People
Release Date: October 8, 2013
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Some of the best albums in this modern era are ones that conjure up memories of past eras. You've got Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, which heavily nodded to the disco era that they were so heavily influenced by, to the point where it sounds like it could have been released and recorded during that time period. There are other albums, though, that have the ability to tap into that nostalgia while still feeling like an album that is very much a product of this day and age. Tame Impala's Lonerism comes to mind, with its psychedlic textures calling back to Revolver-era Beatles, but its songwriting and composition making it stand out from other "revivalist" acts.

Nicolas Jaar's Darkside project falls into the same category as Tame Impala, calling back to an era of music but unmistakeably belonging to 2013, and still feeling like a project that sits in a lane all by itself. After releasing his excellent debut, Space Is Only Noise, in 2011, Jaar teamed up with his touring guitarist Dave Harrington to form Darkside, a project that blends guitar driven psychedelic prog and blues rock with Jaar's knack for electronic grooves and ambient structures. It's almost as if this is what would happen if Pink Floyd had collaborated with Nicolas Jaar, leading me to believe that the project's name is more than just a coincidence.

Following a stellar self-titled EP in 2011, Darkside have released their debut album, Pyschic, expanding on the sound of the EP, only this time it comes packed with a lot more depth and has become even harder to pin down. The 11-minute opener "Golden Arrow" starts with a smokey, ambient backdrop before a drum beat breaks through and Harrington's eerie guitar riff washes over you. It's the longest song on here by a pretty wide margin, but it sets the stage as fittingly as possible by encompassing all there is to know about Darkside.

The songs here all trot the line between menacing and sexy, and the endearing quality to them can be equally attributed to the riffs and the grooves. On "Paper Trails," Harrington's guitar playing lays smoothly over Jaar's deep, hushed vocals and the soft, unobtrusive beat. The two work together as opposed to against each other, with each aspect of the song complimenting and bringing out the other. Things never stay the same for too long either, and each passage either builds into something that's simply stunning or makes way into new themes. "Freak, Go Home" stays on a consistent beat throughout, but different synth lines and bass walks are thrown into the mix while static noise and ambient sound clips weave in and out of the surrounding instruments. For a record that's so concise and coherent, Psychic can be wildly unpredictable and exciting.

After his debut album was met with acclaim, the big question became "what will Nicolas Jaar do next?" Space Is Only Noise still sits in a league of its own today, but rather than continue down that road with his solo career, Jaar took something of a left turn and created a new project. But here's the thing: Darkside isn't a left turn at all. Throughout everything they've done, from that first EP to their Random Access Memories remix album, and now on their first full length album, Jaar's personality seeps through every pore. Make no mistake, though, Darkside is not a simple side project as Dave Harrington's contributions are just as essential to the final product. When it's all said and done, I have a feeling Jaar's solo career won't be the only thing he's known for, as Psychic has put Darkside up there with some of the best groups making music today.

Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
12:33 PM on 10/25/13
You've never seen it look so easy.
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TachyonEvan's Avatar
I fucking love Darkside.

Awesome review, too.

But I fucking love Darkside.
02:24 PM on 10/25/13
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leftapart's Avatar
Great review and awesome band! Thanks for posting them up on AP.net and introducing me to them. I haven't heard the whole album yet but I love what I have listened to so far. Nice comparison to Lonerism and Revolver too! Two of my favorite albums.
07:22 AM on 10/26/13
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phaynes1's Avatar
Great job jake. Really can't wait to spend more time with this.
04:42 PM on 10/28/13
thoust dare quoth i?
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youareallfreaks's Avatar
love this album
09:06 AM on 10/29/13
Ryan Dennehy
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Ryan Dennehy's Avatar
listened to this while i started majora's mask last night and it synced up tonally surprisingly well with the opening sequence. very good record/very good review
12:38 PM on 10/30/13
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newfoundmichael's Avatar
I've been listening to this as I sleep the past few nights. Such a cool album and a very solid review. Well done.
07:23 AM on 11/14/13
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03:53 AM on 11/22/13
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