Against All Logic
Other People· February 14, 2020
Keeping up the spontaneity of the last album, 2017-2019 was dropped a week after his two song EP Illusions of Shameless Abundance and a particularly noisy set of original cuts on NTS Radio.
Going into the album, the audience is greeted with the familiar large, bold font with Jaar’s alias and the album’s title emblazoned across, however this time in a searing orange color. As if to act as a primer for the 45 minutes of techno the listener is going to witness, an image of a soldier using an older iPhone with included stock photo watermarking courtesy of Alamy takes center stage. According to Jaar, this image is supposed to represent the album’s general vibe.
The first track, “Fantasy”, lulls you into the sample-heavy style not all-too-different from 2012-2017, this time using Beyonce and Sean Paul’s 2002 track “Baby Boy”. The vocals are chopped and screwed, drowned by Jaar’s favorite method, distortion. The instruments used are off-kilter, with some squeakier synths, arpeggios, and a repetitive record scratch inhabiting the warm-but-metallic soundscape. It is a beautiful cacophony of sounds that is reminiscent but a far cousin from the last record’s opener “This Old House”. Following is the familiar “If Loving You is Wrong”, which has the same, however slower, DNA as its predecessors.
A definite style switch is seen in “With an Addict”, an ambient, Aphex-Twin-y, breakbeat-ish track based on a very tribal-sounding drum sample and some very minor inclusions of soul vocals. “If You Can’t Do It Good, Do it Hard” is a noisy, punchy banger that features an aggressive section of Lydia Lunch’s “Conspiracy of Women” over booming bass kicks, crunchy snares, and distorted arpeggios. It is undeniably an experiment in what is generally palatable electronic music, with shrill sound effects coming out of nowhere. However it never becomes unbearable, and dare to say adds depth.
“Alarms” builds a house banger out of an odd, high pitched synth pattern. Jaar uses punchy, distorted bass hits between his signature snares and chime samples. This track flows beautifully into “Deeeeeeefers,” a straight, techno song with some more industrial instrumentals. Metallic bells and feedback-type scraping fills a gorgeous synth baseline covered in spacy, industrial snares. “Faith” takes away the background fuzz, leaving a simple but groovy techno beat that grows into a silent, ambient feedback outro. The following track “Penny” brings back the Aphex Twin, JUSTICE vibes to produce a more uptempo, ethereal club hit. The overarching feedback motif finds its way into the beat as well, providing a deep backing among the widened synths and bell patterns. “You (Forever)” forgets what song structure is, primarily consisting of a single bassline and a plethora of random, shrill effects. The outro, however, is a chilling synth harmonic that brings you down from the album. It has a similar effect to a chime bringing a person back from meditation or having a chair you are sitting in kicked backwards into a bathtub a la Inception.
Fans of industrial, techno, or experimental electronic dance music will find a home in 2017-2019. However, the prominent use of cacophonous, shrill feedback and spooky industrial tones may go over sour with the fans of the more ambient, soulful house of the previous project. People that were looking for more of that style will be undoubtedly confused and maybe a little scared. Each group, however, can enjoy the visual-audio rorschach test of figuring out whether the soldier represents the noise.
Listen to 2017-2019: