Spiral by Darkside album review by Sam Boatright for Northern Transmissions

Matador Records

9

Darkside - Spiral

Spiral

Longing is at the heart of DARKSIDE’s newest release. The duo of Dave Harrington and Nicolás Jaar–two of the previous decade’s most prolific musicians–

yearned to realign after years of parallel projects, to capture the spontaneous spirit at the heart of their self-described “jam band” in Darkside. The result is an album built out of longing: longing to reconnect, to shift, to abandon, to inhabit new spaces.

Spiral deviates from the unearthly, crepuscular downtempo that soaked 2013’s Psychic, but this shift allows for an emphasis on melody and songcraft. Rather than late-night meandering, this album struts along with intention and purpose. As one of the few listeners who found Psychic slightly tedious, this change is more palatable.

Singles “Liberty Bell” and “Lawmaker” most acutely portray the duo’s new robust cadence, but album halfway marker “I’m The Echo” makes a strong argument for most declarative of the record’s different tone. Matthew Dear and Air both linger in the curatory miasma of artists recalled.

Jaar’s voice is accentuated on most tracks, providing a stabilizing archetype to Harrington’s devilish noodling. It also presents Spiral as a collection of songs as opposed to a roaming session of ideas, which gives cohesion to the multitude of styles Jaar and Harrington blur. From glitch pop to chamber folk to propulsive art rock, the duo collect and rearrange styles with a meticulous fervor.

However, devout DARKSIDE fans should not be discouraged. That mystical, trudging throb is still present in most of Spiral, and this album still sounds best under the glow of lamp or moonlight. The dusky overtones haunt every song, whether the tracks are shrouded by Medieval acoustic picking or digitally-processed voice modulators.

Harrington and Jaar’s shared longing to propel DARKSIDE forward via more absorbable vocal lines and tantalizing bass grooves is what makes Spiral so admirable. The two could have easily made Psychic 2.0 for a new decade. Instead, they embodied a freeing abandon that birthed an organic, refreshing slow burner of an album, heavy on progressive groove and light on nostalgia.

Order Spiral by Darkside HERE