Of course, two months after I write a “worst to best” of Nicolas Jaar, the fucker goes ahead and releases a new album. But not only a new album, his third full length record of 2020 after 2017-2019, his project under the Against All Logic moniker, and Cenizas, released under his own name. It’s only six months in to the year and it’s reported that the electronic wizard has one more album lined up too!
Telas is an hour long, made up of four tracks that are roughly 15 minutes a piece, and after the most alluring opening sound of a saxophone kicking the record off, it seemed as if the hour was going to be a kaleidoscopic journey with brass instruments and insane electronics colliding once more. Though that isn’t exactly what Telas offers, the record magnifies a specific part of Cenizas – the random percussion and ear piercing white noise – and runs wild in that playground for a full hour. Telas is more experimental but less varied, and is unfortunately one of the few Jaar projects that is left without any proper identity or purpose.
The record feels like the weaker moments of Cenizas that were more like experimental interludes, such as the harsh experimentalism of “Xerox”, which literally sounds like a Xerox machine having a meltdown. The track outstayed its welcome being just three minutes long, but when there are moments on Telas familiar to that sound that go on for 7 to 8 minute stretches, it feels genuinely painstaking. Coming off as more like an off-the-cuff jam session, it doesn’t seem like much effort has been put in to this collection of tracks.
There are still a lot of pleasant moments on the record, every now and then the instruments and electronics bounce off one another and it sounds as beautiful as some of Jaar’s best work. It might just be that he is in my head ‘cause he just announced a new record, but the music reminds me of the work of fellow electronic musician, Actress, especially the second track, “Telencima”, thanks to it’s staticky white noise and it’s plodding electronics, it sounds suspiciously similar to new “N.E.W.” There are classic Jaar troupes such as field recordings, the sound of water trickling down a creek, but it’s all to familiar without adding anything of interest.
On Cenizas, there was a clear mood and a feeling of meditative chaos. If you’re going to make a completely instrumental record that’s one hour long full of field recordings, all-over-the-place percussion, white noise, there should be some kind of cohesion, but it all mushes in to this unfocused impenetrable monolith that doesn’t connect no matter how much you try hitting it with a bones. There are some delightful moments and interesting experiments hidden deep within the album, but it’s just not worth digging through. It’s one of those director’s cut situations where the artist can’t and won’t edit himself. If I was to put this on the worst-to-best list, it would be in the bottom quarter, possibly even last place.