January and February are normally a bit of a dry season when it comes to new releases, be it movies, albums or what have you, so I usually find myself waiting until the year’s halfway through to find things that I enjoy. That’s why I found myself pleasantly surprised when electronic musician, Nicolas Jaar, put out his second release under the stage name Against All Logic, the fantastic “2017-2019.”
The title, similar to his previous release “2012-2017,” leads one to think that these Against All Logic records are meant to function as compilations of music Jaar’s composed throughout the year rather than a project with a singular focus, but — like the best compilations — it’s strong all the way through and it always feels cohesive. It acts as a sort of spiritual successor to his previous release under this name, but while that project generally stayed within the confines of the deep house genre, “2017- 2019” dabbles in just about every electronic genre you can think of. In this regard, the album really does feel like a spiritual sequel that shows more than enough growth to merit its status as a follow-up to a beloved original work. Just looking at the title, I could see how someone might think that this release must be more rushed than its predecessor — something which spans five years instead of two — but the quality of this project is a testament to Jaar’s talent.
The opener, “Fantasy,” is a schmorgasbord of incredible sounds, with a propelling, glitchy rhythm that revolves around a heavily manipulated Beyoncé sample in addition to fantastic keyboard melodies and a vinyl-like crackle and pop that permeates throughout the five-minute track. Another highlight, “With an Addict,” features frantic breakbeats that are occasionally washed in pulsating, reverb-heavy synths, not un- like what music playing at a party sounds like in the bathroom. Except, the breakbeats are no less dominating. It’s like the first chorus of Frank Ocean’s “Nights” if the drumbeat were hellbent on bludgeoning you to death. It’s an experiment in gratuitous repetition that completely pays off. “If You Can’t Do It Good, Do It Hard” features vocals by the legendary no-wave singer Lydia Lunch on what must be the most abrasive song under the Against All Logic name, while songs like “If Loving You Is Wrong” and “Penny” add IDM elements to compositions that would feel right at home on “2012-2017.” No tracks overstay their welcome or are flat out bad or mediocre, and even at its weakest, this is still far more captivating than the average album.
Over the last decade, Jaar has established himself as one of the most prolific and creative electronic artists working today, and “2017- 2019” shows that he’s clearly not done adding to his already impres- sive legacy. I’m beyond excited to see where Jaar takes his sound next, and as this album shows, whatever direction he takes won’t be easy to predict or contain within predetermined expectations. It just has to be experienced, which I think is the most exciting feeling you can possibly have when delving into a contemporary artist’s catalogue.