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Nicolas Jaar

You’d have to have your eyes and ears shut to miss hearing about Nicolas Jaar in 2011. Following a string of provocative debut singles for the likes of Wolf + Lamb that opened the door to his illustrious sound, his cerebral debut album on Circus Company, ‘Space Is Only Noise’ has become one of the most successful debuts of recent times garnering praise from the likes of The Guardian (“One feels drawn into a fullyformed, self-contained world of his making”) and Dazed & Confused (“Nicolas Jaar has achieved something that few electronic musicians have achieved before – bringing geeky techno fiends, jazz lovers and chav ravers into an unholy union”).

Now in the true spirit of sincere musicianship, the recently turned 21year old prodigy embarks on the next chapter of his career as his world class live show evolves into a new band format. Voted no 2 live sets of the year in 2010 by Resident Advisor, Nicolas Jaar’s solo live show has featured an array of keyboards, synths and his own singing on a vintage microphone to date, full exemplifying his loose, slow and seductive experiment into sonic grooves in a string of sell out shows. Already sharing more atmospheric ground with cutting edge indie outfits, his groundbreaking album material now seeks fresh interpretation in a dynamic live instrumental context. Featuring Ian Sims on drums, Will Epstein on saxophone and keys, Dave Harrington on guitar / electronics and Nicolas Jaar himself on piano, vocals and electronics, this visionary new concept was born from long established relationships and a shared passion for treading into mysterious new ground. The lush textures of ‘Space Is Only Noise’ are redefined in this fresh framework, embracing the silent approach of Jaar’s music from a new perspective and pouring light into the corners of its intentions.

Will Epstein has played and studied saxophone for twelve years. He came upon Nicolas on a little island in Maine at the turn of the century before they hit their teenage years, brought together by their parents visit to an artist residency. Unable to communicate in the same language (Jaar could not yet converse in English well as it was soon after he returned to NYC from Chile), they bonded playing soccer on a hill being chased by dogs. Reunited again in New York, living a handful of blocks away from each other in Manhattan, they began to play music together in high school. “We played on the street, in bands, in dark basements, and started to learn to listen, Endless hours dripped away and the sound wrapped around us,” said Will of their early times. Epstein also attends Browns University with Jaar and formed the band outfit, Spank City, alongside other members Ian Sims and Dave Warrington while there. Their psychedelic improvised approach was an early hybrid of the next formation of Jaar’s musical concept. “We have continued to explore similar concepts to those outlined by Spank City and my work with Nico, looking to push myself, my instrument and my consciousness to new and perhaps uncomfortable places, and hoping to explore everything through the lens of a profound interest in human creativity. In high school, Nico and I used to sometimes refer to the music we loved and the music we loved to make as something akin to a wheel. The music off of ‘Space Is Only Noise’, wonderfully, feels very much like this. As such, in performing the music live, I feel it's my responsibility to explode the wheel, but only so far as to keep it moving.” Will Epstein introduced Ian Sims to Nicolas Jaar after working together musically for a number of years in various bands, performances, and projects. Sims has collaborated in all sorts of musical play, ranging from free improvisation to hard bop and afro-funk-electro-dance. Recently graduating from Browns in Africana Studies, he is now a teacher of guitar and drums. “In backing Nico, our group has worked to play an additive role - as if we too were samples from his bag of sounds. His music has a fullness unto itself, so we are more free than in most situations to hold off and enter only during particular moments. We are rarely mimicking his original compositions, but finding new textures and phrases that add to what already exists. His music is purposefully very minimal and restrained and we have been working hard to avoid overflowing the simple elements that give his music interest. It has become an exercise in careful choice and deliberate expression. Nico holds rhythm, especially the dense and rich rhythms of African and Afro-diasporic music, in high esteem - which for a drummer is a blessing. It is such fun to be able to make this music with other long time friends, friends who have spent countless nights learning each other’s musical languages.”

Another Browns graduate, Dave Harrington undertook a degree in modern ultra and media (semiotics). Now based in NYC working as a freelance musician, he recently scored a documentary about Pablo Escobar for the BBC and is a member of a number of Brooklyn-based bands, from playing the lapsteel guitar in a country band to synthbass in an experimental metal band as well as being the frontman for acts EL TOPO, Translations, ARMS and the aforementioned Spank City. “All of the band have very individual voices on their instruments that Nico has embraced. We’re excited by the idiosyncrasies of those voices and have found places to let them shine, whether it's hip hop drumming, free jazz saxophone, or middle eastern influenced guitar. It took us a few rehearsals to really get inside the music. Now I feel like I understand the interior logics of how it works and it's aims both microscopically and conceptually. I feel that it's my role to add a human element, something that can be trance inducing, repetitive, erratic and unpredictable in the way only a human can. It feels great to be part of the element of spontaneity that is true to Nico's vision.” The Nicolas Jaar live band format made its debut at the Standard Hotel rooftop in their New York base In February to a hypnotized audience who embraces this exclusive insight into this standout material. Next the band embargoes to Miami for the infamous Sunday School for Degenerates finale, before touching down in Europe at the end of March. It will then take to some of the most prominent stages of summer festivals and live venues as Nicolas Jaar continues to conquer the fragile space that lives within the heart, body and spirit of music.

 

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