Space Is Only Noise is the first full-length effort by Nicolas Jaar, a Chilean-American producer whose work is deeply influenced by Ricardo Villalobos, jazz pianists like Dave Brubeck and Keith Jarrett, and Leonard Cohen. Early singles "Russian Dolls" and "Time for Us" were more dancefloor-friendly than the album, which layers multiple acoustic instruments, most notably Jaar's own jazz-inflected piano, sampled vocals, and even a drum solo (the 23-second "Trace") into a melancholy, pensive 45-minute journey. Jaar assembled the disc from several years' worth of recordings -- he's relentlessly productive -- but it has a conceptual unity that makes it feel like the product of a single burst of inspiration. This music is spiritual, psychedelic at times, and always rooted in a strong core concept that goes beyond "intelligent dance music" toward the idea that electronics are merely a tool, and do not themselves demand loyalty to any particular aesthetic. In some ways, the music on Space Is Only Noise is reminiscent of pianist Matthew Shipp's early-2000s albums like Equilibrium and Harmony and Abyss, with sampled vocals and occasional singing to bring it closer to pop. Indeed, had he not chosen to release it on his own label, Jaar could well have found a home as part of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman