Published on December 17th, 2013 | by Mike Conlon


Darkside – Psychic


In the echo chamber of music criticism, any halfway decent act stands a chance of being described as “important,” whether or not they deserve the praise. This year, the critics have lined up behind Darkside.[1]  Thank God, the hype is justified. Ten years from now, Darkside’s ‘Psychic’ will hold up as one of 2013’s most significant records. The album is the brainchild of Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington, two musicians not unfamiliar with blowing minds. In fact, just this past summer they dextrously deconstructed and reimagined Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories.’ And before teaming up with Harrington, Jaar released ‘Space is Only Noise’ a seemingly out-of-nowhere debut release that had ambient fans frothing.

‘Psychic’ opens with ‘Golden Arrow,’ an 11 minute epic that doesn’t settle on a groove until almost five minutes in. In less talented hands such sonic meandering might seem self-indulgent, but Darkside makes every moment count, and when the drums, rhythm guitar, and vocals finally enter the fray, they feel like the only logical leaping point from the track’s earlier, seemingly haphazard, ambient explorations.

‘Paper Trails’ is another gem, and, at the risk of oversimplifying, might be described as the album’s quintessential track, in that it deftly mixes airy atmospheric noise with more straightforward sounds, like some badass Mark Knopfler inspired guitar leads. ‘Freak, Go Home’ kicks off the Side B, and is another example of the album’s ability to make contrasting sounds play nice with one another, deftly mixing acoustic and electric drum beats, and repeatedly deconstructing and reconstructing its infectious keyboard riff.

By the time you make it to end of ‘Metatron,’ the album’s last track, it’s as though you’ve been on a musical journey through the past and right into the future. ‘Psychic’ is only 40 minutes long, but Darkside makes every moment (particularly its meandering moments) mean something.

It’s fascinating that an album can be so musically ambitious, yet simultaneously so laid-back. ‘Psychic’ is the ultimate concoction of borderline academic listening and all out groove. It combines and deconstructs genres in such a skilled fashion that by the end of the album you won’t be able to tell up from down, and more importantly, you won’t care.


[1] Pitchfork’s review. Consequence of Sound’s review. The Quietus’ review.

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About the Author

(also known as “the poor man’s Craig Silliphant”) is a writer and filmmaker. He goes to sleep reading magazines, and wakes up disoriented and craving caffeine. If you don’t mind generic tweets, follow him on Twitter: @mikeconlonsk

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