Electronic duo Darkside introduces listeners to the genre with familiar jazz sounds

David Sackllah

The term “electronic music” often calls to mind DJs playing giant EDM festivals. There is a whole world of artists who operate on the fringe of electronic music, though, working with house, techno, grime, avant-garde or experimental electronic sounds that are constantly pushing boundaries to create new music. Each week, The Daily Texan will cover a recently released album from one of these artists. For the first installment, we discuss Psychic, the debut album from Darkside.

Darkside is a duo comprised of electronic producer Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington. Jaar built a name for himself with his solo material and how he incorporates space and silence into slow-burning tracks that more often than not develop into throbbing tunes for the dance floor. With Darkside, Jaar adds Harrington’s wavy guitar lines to incorporate more elements of jazz. This gives the music a steadier groove, which creates wonderful results on Psychic.

Self-released on Jaar’s serial label Other People, Psychic is one of the most interesting releases of the year because of the way it takes sounds found in jazz and lounge music and turns them into forward-thinking dance tracks. The album opens with the dark, 11-minute long “Golden Arrow,” which unfolds carefully, adding multiple layers while always keeping a steady, almost Italo-disco-inspired beat. From there, you get highlights like the sensual “Paper Trails,” the best dance song of the year to feature a blues-filled guitar solo. The album gets darker and weirder throughout its second half, incorporating distorted vocals on “The Only Shrine I’ve Seen” and experimental drone-sounding keys on “Greek Light.”

By operating on the slower, more drawn-out side of the spectrum, Psychic acts as a great introduction into the realm of weird electronic music, especially for fans of jazz and psych-rock. Darkside is one of the strangest, most innovative bands around, and its album is one to give a listen.