For a decade or so, the lack of new material from Jean-Michel Jarre cast a very dark shadow over the world of electronic music which seemed impossible to fill. But there were those who attempted to stand in for him, one of whom was the suspiciously similarly named Nicholas Jaar, a Chilean musician whose DARKSIDE project first appeared with their Psychic album in 2013.
To talk only about Jarre’s influence would be unfair – it’s strong, but there are many other factors at play here as well. Lead track Golden Arrow burbles along gently for over eleven minutes, bringing in ambient “found” sounds and synthetic energy from time to time. Once the rhythm finally arrives, five minutes in, you should have a clear idea of what this album’s going to be about. The delay-laden synth sounds that follow as the rhythm progresses into more of a march only serve to back up your first impressions.
The short piece Sitra, which follows, is unexciting, but leads us gradually through to Heart, which for the first time brings us a vocal, with lyrics, although they’re largely unintelligible. There’s something rather sweet about the rhythmic nature of this track, taking you back to the early 1970s somehow. Apart from the processing, the DARKSIDE project is clearly firmly rooted in the past.
Paper Trails for the first time brings us a comprehensible vocal, which, coupled with a particularly funky rhythm, makes for a great song. This is not the sort of thing that’s ever going to get a lot of radio play, but it’s fantastic nonetheless.
If this album has a low point, it’s with the next piece, The Only Shrine I’ve Seen, which while it has nothing especially wrong with it, it feels a bit pointless too somehow. But this is a fairly concise album, and before long Freak, Go Home is upon us, lifting the standards again. This is probably the best track on here, with its enormous melodic swells. It sounds a bit like the soundtrack to an advert for some kind of mood-enhancing coffee.
The gentler chimes and squawks of Greek Light follow, carrying us through to the final track, the glorious Metatron. As with much of this album, it wouldn’t necessarily be instantly accessible, but there’s something entirely pleasant about it. The melodic piano and unsettling choral pads come together rather beautifully. It’s not long before it fades away, and the album is over already.
Psychic is an excellent one-off release for DARKSIDE, and even if they never release anything else under this name, we should be grateful for this.
You can find Psychic at all major online retailers.