I know you like your EDM – so do I – but they say the grass is greener on the other side. What other side? The other side of electronic music: the luscious green fields of techno, they call it. Before moving to Europe for a semester abroad in September of 2011, I’ve always known techno/minimal as that word in the reference section of a book – we all know it, we all use it, but at the same time, never really delved into the genre.
But then my inner tech-house child met the one and only Nicolas Jaar. If you haven’t already heard of him, you will from me, and I can guarantee you, his name will come up various times and numerous occasions in the near future. Apparently twenty one is the new black, because this successful American-Chilean prodigy child is a younging! Legal isn’t the only thing he turned this year, it’s heads and ears as well. Nico was born in 1990 in New York, but grew up in Santiago de Chile, and started making electronic music just fourteen years later. Amazingly, at the tender age of just seventeen, he made his debut on the iconic Brooklyn-based Wolf + Lamb label. He is also still fully enrolled at Brown University in Rhode Island for Comparative Literature. Beats and books. So… who wants to carpool me over to Rhode Island one of these days?
As bitter as I am to have not accomplished anything of the sort at the age he did, I’m glad Nico did, because it sure made the world a better place. What drew me to Nico and his work is his sheer genius in joining the techno bassline with jazz solos, piano rifts and rhythm hooks. I call it being maximal using the minimalist technique. It’s the perfect mixmash of light and heavy, with a tough of disco and funk. Although tracks such as “Nico’s Feelin’ Good” and “Gravy Train” are more chilled out, in no way are they any less playful. They are more for the laid back feel, nothing that will make you shuffle your feet or get low, but enough to get your head bobbing and fingers tapping. Another aspect I love of Nico is his use of instruments and drums. Since the tracks are not layers ontop of layers, you can hear every strum of the strings and feel the weight of each note. Nico paints the fullest picture with the simplest techniques.
Give the guy a listen. I’ve put up a few of my favorite tracks that I think have captured the essence of the deep, chilled-out house that he is. Wolf + Lamb released Nico’s 6 Edits LP for free via digital download in 2010. The six tracks given are great examples of an artists’ rework on classic, well-known tunes like Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and New Order’s “Blue Monday” as well as individual talent in creating memorable melodies.
As always, if you can’t get enough of the bliss that comes with his beats, he is active on Facebook and Beatport charts and of course, be on the lookout for productions from his label Clown and Sunset. If you’re like me and need a break once in a while from all that wobbly dubstep or sweaty drops of mainstream electro-house, and the fifty thousand remixes of “Levels,” tuck yourself neatly at a corner coffee shop with a cup of tea, a pair of headphones, and let this young maestro whisk you away to a little paradise island.
Selected tracks from his 6 Edits LP free giveaway: