Nicolas Jaar Telas Other People
Despite all evidence to the contrary – its feeling of sonic weightlessness and shimmering beauty for example – to call Nicolás Jaar’s music “celestial” isn’t quite right. Rather, and with Telas perhaps more than ever, what Jaar creates is something more like a map of darkness itself.
The cacophonous beginnings of Telahora, with its scrapes, clangs and sharp bursts of static, give the sensation of insurmountable vertigo. As those first minutes of initial sensory overload draw to a close, however, we are given room to breathe: the space of Telas opens up to reveal the full scope of the universe that Jaar and his collaborators are terraforming. Shock gives way to awe, articulated in no small part by the astounding work of cellist Milena Punzi.
Telencima follows in less urgently discordant terms, but along the same, blurred lines between the digital and natural worlds. What could be either bit-crushed birdsong or voice could just as easily be remnant radio static inside of Jaar’s Telas world. Penultimate track Telahumo picks up the arc from its predecessor in seamless relay, giving the impression that Telas, as a whole, is less of an album and more of a cycle – it has more in common, in terms of its scope and depth and commitment to narrative, with Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring or Oldfield’s Music of Spheres than with many of his contemporaries.
As a piece of music, Telas is both linear and something of an ouroboros; closer Telallás – with its airy chimes and twinkles – doesn’t feel like the close of anything at all, more of a contribution to a continuous cycle of stillness, chaos, order and plateau that could play out on infinite loop. Jaar’s gift is that he not only sees beauty in all of this, but teases it out in gaps of sparse instrumentation that feel vital.