Isn’t it just grand when an artist you appreciate releases a surprise album? It’s a wonderful gift that can instantly brighten an otherwise gloomy day. When Radiohead dropped their most recent LP, A Moon Shaped Pool, it was only announced three days before release. Every Radiohead fan including myself lost their minds with excitement. That’s precisely what happens with A. A. L. (Against All Logic)’s 2012-2017. Nicolas Jaar, as he’s known by many, quietly released this record over his Other People label on February 17… And wow, is it great.
From the opening industrial, distorted synth tones of “This Old House Is All I Have,” the record immediately demands your attention. However, a minute later, the track transitions into this driving, funk-inspired warped house dance-a-thon.
This album is Jaar’s most house-driven record. While his previous records like Space Is Only Noise delved into the microhouse sound, 2012-2017 puts the cheerful, house beats on blast, especially on the second track, “I Never Dream.” Not only is this one of the most inspiring house tracks of the decade, put possibly of all time. Fans of Daft Punk’s irresistible early material will jump with everlasting euphoria on their imaginary (or real) trampolines like youthful middle schoolers in the summertime. The drum programming on this track is jaw-dropping with prominent drum and bass influences spiraled throughout. It’s amazing how Jaar can take an abstract, glitchy beat, throw it over that 4/4 house stomp, AND ACTUALLY MAKE IT WORK! “Some Kind of Game” starts out with a lo-fi dance-y heartbeat and transitions into something else entirely about a minute and a half in. It’s just pure joy to listen to. The vocal sample is also insanely catchy, as a matter of fact, the vocal samples all over this record are irresistibly infectious. Jaar concretely understands how to integrate samples well within his music, and 2012-2017 is the best example of that yet. Speaking of great samples, “Hopeless” features the best table tennis sample since Flying Lotus’ “Table Tennis” off 2010’s Cosmogramma.
Jaar also brings a distinct, lo-fi outsider house influence to this record giving it a “garage dancefloor” feel. On “Cityfade” in particular, the deep, low-end is reduced in favor of a more punchy, grainy backbeat. “Flash In the Pan” reverts slightly back to Jaar’s microhouse sound reminiscent of some of Jon Hopkins’ latest output. Occasional blasts of noise propulse the track into the night sky and amongst the constellations. Maybe a new constellation was formed from this track?
This is an all-around phenomenal release from Nicolas Jaar. Not only is the production crisp yet raw, but detailed and layered with profound precision. It’s part of the reason I find Nicolas Jaar such an immersing artist. His unique blend of funk and soul samples on here make it the best house record in recent memory. IF YA LIKE TO DANCE, THEN PUT THIS RECORD ON!
By Luke Rola // Purple Dragon