A.A.L. (Against All Logic)

2012/2017

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Electronic boundary-pusher Nicolas Jaar made a name for himself with strange and beautiful albums of collage-like and often very patient sounds. Either under his own name or in collaborative projects like Darkside, Jaar leaned on subtlety and darkly drawn negative space to impart his productions with a uniquely lonely atmosphere. Always active, Jaar was working concurrently on several projects at once, the least visible of which was his semi-anonymous Against All Logic (A.A.L.) moniker. Flying way under the radar of Jaar's enamored critics, the project issued several springy house tracks before 2012/2017, a collection of 11 songs that arrived almost completely unannounced in early 2018. While not totally divorced from the style Jaar became best-known for on his solo albums, A.A.L. tends toward lovingly warped dancefloor scorchers and deals in tones of optimism, romance, joy, and nostalgia, all a far cry from the staid abstractions that Jaar often dips into. Mostly upbeat and energetic, the songs here wander gleefully through delighted vocal samples, sometimes intentionally distorted or deconstructed. Many tracks incorporate hypnotic grooves, as with the fractured, sped-up soul samples that collide with heavy electronic drums on "Know You" or the smoky instrumentation that swims in noise on album-opener "This Old House Is All I Have." "Now You Got Me Hooked" is perhaps the strongest example of Jaar's playful dissection of samples, with a vocal line flitting in and out of long rhythmic passages, the mood of the song melting from sunny yearning to stark minimalism at the whim of the composition. A large section of the album leans more toward a template of traditional house, but filtered through an experimental lens. "I Never Dream" builds on choppy breakbeats and busy vocal samples until the song suddenly arrives at a rolling boil. Over the course of the album's 11 tracks, nods are made to various phases in the development of electronic music. Early-'90s rave, egregiously detuned analog synth melodies à la the giddy experimentalism of Aphex Twin, disco edits, minimal house, and even moments of pre-techno influences are all touched upon as restless and colorful album washes by A.A.L., showing a different side of Jaar's range, but it's easily the most carefree and inviting of his work. No previous knowledge of his catalog is necessary to get happily lost in the blissful layers of 2012/2017.

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