Album Review: Nicolas Jaar – Pomegranates (2015)

For those who follow this blog since the beginning, I have mentioned Nicolas Jaar and his works quite a few times, but never writing any specific review about them. Yesterday, after posting Get Horizontal by Radikal Rat I found myself listening to Pomegranates by Nicolas Jaar once again, so I guess it’s time to make a dedicated post about this album, 3 years after released in 2015 by Jaar’s label Other People. Nothing more appropriate to be featured here than an album that starts with a track called Garden of Eden.

Pomegranates is nothing usual, very far from what has been Space Is Only Noise release from 2011. From a more minimal-techno or house influenced producer, Nicolas Jaar grew to a very sensitive and deep music composer before Sirens and Nymphs, blending delicate sound design, marked by remarkable chromatic pianos, with field recording (especially voices), together with experimental and lovely melodies. In total, Pomegrantes has 20 tracks that serve as an alternate soundtrack to The Color of Pomegranates, an Armenian-Soviet film by Sergei Parajanov, from 1969. A highly avant-garde film that resembles classics such as The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky (1973) or Arabian Nights from Pier Paolo Pasolini, but softer.

The film re-counts the story of an 18th century Armenian singer Sayat-Nova, and as much as Pomegranates from Nicolas Jaar, is something distant from the easily digestible entertainment cinema and music. Tracks like Beasts of This Earth and Screams at the Edge of Dawn are as fragments of abstract sounds, that illustrate imaginary cinematographic scenes of beasts screaming to be later on followed by mellow piano compositions, such as in Divorce, a delicate piece.

This album is special for it’s singularity. Which is a mixture of very personal tracks produced by Nicolas Jaar, that touch multiple artistic expressions, such as poetry, cinema and music. The originality of music production is taken as a priority over commercial interests. Remaining still, as one of the most interesting and complex works ever produced by him. Hardly fit into any specific genre of music, which is ideally what we aim to share in this blog. If split in two parts, the first half shows itself to be more complex, a more abstract part, that is followed by delicate tracks after Divorce, such as Three Windows, Tourists, Shame and ending up gracefully with Muse. All tracks range in length from around 2 to 5 minutes, so all of them are quite short for what is usually ambient influenced music. Though only a feel, we can still listen to Nicolas Jaar’s skills with rhythm in tracks such as Club Kapital.

Pomegrantes is a highly authorial work from Nicolas Jaar, that opened op the doors to what came after as Nymphs and Sirens in 2016 and 2017. We definitely need more musicians and releases like this in this ever-changing music industry, filled with more of the same fads and a big lack of originality, when artists and composers alike put number of plays as priority number one before feelings and providing highly artistic materials.

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