Review Summary: Space come to earth.
There’s a moment in “The Only Shrine I’ve Ever Seen,” about 2:40 in, when short bass clips begin. Nicolas Jaar’s voice croons softly over the beat for 45 seconds or so, and then the music stops save for a few reverberant guitar lines. The moment isn’t all that breath-taking. But it’s so damn precise and perfectly settled that when Dave Harringon’s guitar returns to boogie (and yes, that seems the appropriate word) a few seconds later it would be difficult for the riff to work any more effectively.
Moments like this one, littered throughout Psychic
, are not even the highlight of Darkside’s inaugural LP. That would be the murky atmosphere encompassing the entire album, a mixture of Burial’s grimy streets and James Blake’s ethereal isolation. There are no tracks here like Daft Punk’s recent “Contact,” where from the outset it’s clear they want you careening out of the atmosphere. Instead, a needle-drop hiss permeates Psychic
, almost as if Jaar and Harrington prefer to anchor their music to earth. And this is a good thing, because Psychic
otherwise leads you carefully out to space. Opener “Golden Arrow” might be the best example – a slow-burner taking you gently where it wants to go. It never takes off until a third of the way through its 11 minute runtime, and even then it’s only a marching drum n’ bass that moves underneath Harrington’s guitar and the sputtering electronics. A pulsating bass line hits 7 minutes in, and though it’s not that
monumental, it feels huge.
undoubtedly has futuristic tendencies: the waves of static in the opener or the shimmers of “Metatron.” Yet Jaar and Hamilton are not trying to break any barriers or do anything particularly new (except, maybe, the way they use the guitar). They are, however, pushing things forward. A sense of movement saturates Psychic
even when the music is standing still. The whirl of “Golden Arrow’s” climax, the hand claps at the beginning of “The Only Shrine I’ve Ever Seen,” the tribal drums and weaving synthesizer of “Freak Go Home” – all these signal an album held together by an undeniable rhythm. But it’s tracks like “Heart” or “Paper Trails” that really hold everything together. They’re not standouts proper, but the bluesy guitar featured on both gives Psychic
a soulful edge. And while the spacey sounds of “Freak, Go Home” glide us into the sky, this edge tethers Psychic
to the ground. The interplay is simply striking.