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Album of the Week: Nicolas Jaar – Sirens

That sound of breaking glass you hear at the start of Nicolas Jaar’s Sirens is the Chilean / American producer breaking conventions yet again. Following his dance-floor appropriate Nymphs series of releases, Sirens sees the producer, DJ and artist contextualising his music for the album format for the second-only time. Not including Pomegranates, a re-scoring of the Soviet film The Color Of Pomegranates, Sirens is the long-awaited follow up to the Space is Only noise and like that album, Jaar’s eclectic artistic personality informs everything about this album.

Like his DJ sets that can channel everything from Soul to Jazz and beyond through a club floor, this album ties together a cornucopia of outlier elements to string together songs as a musical diorama. Jaar’s inquisitive and exploratory style informs the direction of the music throughout the tracks, which can go from the improvised electronics of “Leaves” to the stomping garage rock beats of “Three Sides of Nazareth”, and leave you guessing around every phrase as to where the producer will go next. Everything from rockabilly to Jazz creeps its way into the music and pulls at the very thin roots of the tracks, allowing something like “The Governor” to go from down-beat rock bass hook and vocal to a great dissonant honking sax and beguiling piano refrain, disappearing into the white noise of the next song.

Nicolas Jaar’s music on Sirens like his debut album, are thick with layers and take the listener to very unsuspecting places at times, and it’s up to the listener to choose the level of their encounter with the album, but Sirens allows for many possibilities of involvement, making it quite an accessible work at many levels.