Darkside
Spiral


4.5
superb

Review

by Sowing STAFF
July 24th, 2021 | 132 replies


Release Date: 07/23/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Darth Vader voice: join me.

Spiral is an album overflowing with the sort of aesthetic crowd-pleasers that make it nearly impossible not to enjoy. The whole thing bubbles, glimmers, and echos thanks to a potent blend of electronic/indie/psychedelic influences. Composer Nicolas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington thrive upon creating a mini universe where the laws of music feel elastic: guitars bend and wrap themselves around lush aqueous beats, while acoustic notes trickle in subtly to a serenade of bells/chimes. The overarching aura on Spiral is one of cool submersion - whether it's into nature, a dream, or the depths of the outer space.

Those who enjoyed Darkside's brilliant 2013 debut Psychic will find plenty more to love here. The duo's sophomore effort follows directly in its footsteps, crafting splendorous and mystifying atmospheres which are injected with just enough melody. As with Psychic, it's strange enough to buck mainstream trends, but also familiar enough to enjoy immediately. Whether it's the funky downtempo groove of 'The Limit', the breezy indie-folk of 'The Question Is To See It All', the Pink Floyd fever dream 'Lawmaker', the heavenly ambiance on 'Spiral', or the mischievous strut of 'Liberty Bell', Spiral manages to round all of its eclectic corners into one smooth, shimmering sphere.

After an eight year sabbatical, Darkside have crafted another towering, electronically-infused psychedelic masterpiece. It's a wet dream for mood music aficionados, providing a lavish backdrop for moments of deep thought, somber reflection, or even romantic inclination. It might not offer much outside of Psychic's purview, but it's hard to peg that as a flaw when the music is this surreal and utterly beautiful. Spiral is a swoon worthy record, and one that cements Darkside as one of the brightest glowing acts of its kind.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
July 24th 2021


39095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wrote this review on a whim. Easily one of my new favorite bands, don't miss out on this or their debut Psychic if you happened to miss it.

Digging: The Felice Brothers - From Dreams to Dust

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2021


15131 Comments


Enjoying the short-format writing style you've used here. Whimsical Sowing is a good read.

Ashtiel
July 24th 2021


1260 Comments


ive never heard of these guys before the singles for this record started dropping, but i'm definitely intrigued by what i heard. could def. go for some downtempo, groovy neo-psych-y art rock/pop.

OSEL
July 24th 2021


496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review, never thought they'd do it again but here we are

Digging: Low - Hey What

rabidfish
July 24th 2021


6843 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

After 3 listens and half a gram, this is really a big grower!

Digging: HTRK - Rhinestones

Slex
July 24th 2021


12153 Comments


Lmao sounds about right

Digging: Trophy Scars - Astral Pariah

anat
July 24th 2021


4368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was wrong about the back half, this is very alright

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


woah art rock primary krautrock secondary on rym

Digging: Controlled Bleeding - Distress Signals

DoofDoof
July 24th 2021


10391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Might just 4.5 this straight off because it’s certainly great but this year has been so lacking - think the previous one had a better atmosphere and this seems more rockist…but I like it

Sowing
Moderator
July 24th 2021


39095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I also found out about these guys with the singles dropping in May and June. I went back and listened to Psychic several weeks ago and immediately loved it. I was expecting this to be a step down but it's really more of the same (both stylistically and in terms of quality). Like Doof stated there are some minor tweaks (this is indeed a little more "rockist"), which combined with some unmistakable indie folk influences puts it right up my alley.

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


exciting exciting

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


pink floyd eh?

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
July 24th 2021


5509 Comments


Interesting sound, I dug Liberty Bell, I'm the Echo and Lawmaker on a first listen.

Digging: The Killers - Pressure Machine

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


idk how much you venture into electronic, insomniac, but if i would have guessed you'd be into this

Sowing
Moderator
July 24th 2021


39095 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Pink Floyd comment was really just directed at Lawmaker, which for some reason struck me as a creepy electro-tinged psychedelic song about the pandemic, false/self proclaimed saviors, and an ignorant herd of religious zealots. Most of the record isn't what I'd call anything close to the works of Gilmour/Waters outside of perhaps some select guitar influences.

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


hmm how about halfway through the question is to see it all

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


HARRINGTON: I could go into the nuts and bolts of it, but some of the new threads that came out were an emphasis on trying different approaches to writing than we’ve done before. We did some things the “classic way” — like, acoustic guitar, notebook, that kind of thing. We sat at the piano. We did things in and out of the box in and in a production mindset in a way that we hadn’t really done before. And that was really exciting. We were just trying to find new ways to look at structures and what could constitute a song. I was also thinking about Richard Thompson, Nick Drake, and alternate guitar tunings. We’ve never done that together before.

JAAR: One of the first songs that we made was “Spiral,” and the guitar work on it is a bit more complex than what we’d done before. That helped us feel like we were getting closer to both of our worlds. At the same time, we’ve always wanted the foundation of Darkside music to be very, very accessible. We don’t want to put any barriers to entry to this music. It’s a challenge, but I think something that excites Dave and I is to have this music as open as possible, as friendly as possible, as loving and caring as possible. You know, it’s psychedelic music so it has to lend its hand and say, “Would you like to come in?”

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


yea i'm the echo is 100% an insomniac kinda track :]

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


Their fusion of rock and techno calls to mind the murky unpredictability of Davis’ electric period, the rhythmic jamming of Can and the expansive nature of Pink Floyd—a split between immediacy and alienness.


heh, kinda funny to me how altpress and stereogum both reference the same big names

parksungjoon
July 24th 2021


35657 Comments


Pitchfork: Early in your career, you were frequently compared to Ricardo Villalobos, another artist who's worked heavily in the field of minimal techno.

NJ: That comparison doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I love Ricardo, but I'm not even close to attaining his level of technique, which is what I admired of him. It's funny, because when people would ask me in interviews why I make electronic music, I'd be like, "Because I love Ricardo Villalobos!" His music was the only fucking thing I knew, and I heard it as psychedelic music, not electronic music.

When I used to take the subway to go to school as a teenager, I'd listen to Ricardo Villalobos' Thé Au Harem D'Archimède and Trentemøller's The Last Resort. With Ricardo, I was always like, "Where are you going with this?" But the amount of confidence he has is amazing. The Trentemøller record, on the other hand, was always so easy on the ears, like candy. I always wanted to make Trentemøller's sound a little more experimental, and Ricardo's sound a little more melodic. That might sound weird, because they were both contemporaries at the time-- but I was young, and that's the best vocabulary for your ideas when you're young.


also mentioned can and hawtin in the same 2013 interview, based



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