Against All Logic – “2017-2019” Album Review
Electronic music artist Nicolas Jaar released his second album under the name Against All Logic, titled “2017-2019,” an album that sees Jaar reach the edge of madness in his ever experimental sound, and he just barely keeps it all together.
Nicolas Jaar has spent a career breaking the norms of electronic music. Throughout the 10s, he released music that was soft, ambient, and confusing at times. It would be highly unlikely to find a track from “Sirens” or “Space Is Only Noise” at a nightclub. Through all of it, however, Jaar proved himself to be one of the most creative and daring electronic artists.
In 2018, he released the album “2012-2017” under the alias “Against All Logic.” The sound of the album was more danceable, but as inventive as ever. With “2012-2017,” Jaar created an album that was soft like his previous releases, but at the same time catchy and off kilter. As time has passed, the album has become somewhat of a cult classic.
In a surprise announcement a week before its eventual release, Jaar announced his return to the Against All Logic pseudonym with “2017-2019.” In “2017-2019,” Jaar has in some ways reinvented his sound. The album is harsher, with distortion playing a key role in many of his tracks.
Jaar also makes his music faster here compared to previous releases. Songs such as “With An Addict,” and “Deeeeeeefers” see Jaar, an artist who usually likes to slow things down, picking up the pace.
This change in direction is apparent in the opening seconds of the album on the track “Fantasy,” as a collection of overpowered staccato string sounds rain down on the ears before Jaar blasts those notes into oblivion, creating the first of many sensory overloads on “2017-2019.”
Similar to “2012-2017,” Jaar created a more danceable album with this project, though where one would dance to tracks such as “If You Can’t Do It Good, Do It Hard” or “Alarm,” is questionable.
One the whole, however, “2017-2019,” will likely go down as one of the most fascinating releases of 2020.
Through the repetitiveness of the nine tracks in this album, there are an array of curveballs, with sounds that seem to come out of nowhere. This is exemplified in the song “If Loving You Is Wrong.” A track that sees a vocal sample and a synth hook playing on repeat for almost four minutes. At the same time, random but well timed buzzes, keyboard interjections, and drum machine beats pitter patter throughout the track.
When listening to “2017-2019” everyday common sounds, such as a phone notification bell, an air conditioning machine whirring, and doors opening and closing fit into the controlled chaos of the album as if they are a part of the tracks themselves.
It is this sound, however, that can hold the album back as a whole.
While “2017-2019” shows a unique continuation of Jaar’s anomalous sound, the sheer absurdity in this album's experimentation can sometimes push beyond the boundaries of what makes music enjoyable.
Jaar has never made music for the masses, and this has mostly worked in his favor. He has carved out a unique and unmistakable place in the music world, and this album will likely further solidify that place in the eyes of many.
There are times, such as on “Alarms,” “Deeeeeeefers,” and “Faith,” where Jaar kicks things in to overdrive so much that the tracks begin to lose any rhyme or reason. It becomes music for those with music taste on the furthest fringes.
This type of experimentation is needed to move music forward. More extreme versions of this musical madness, such as the music on Captain Beefheart’s 1968 album “Trout Mask Replica” expanded the possibilities of what music could be, and Jaar has done the same. The tradeoff for this however is music that can be too crazy for its own good.
Regardless, “2017-2019” for the most part keeps things together. Jaar has created another weird but wonderful album as Against All Logic, and in the future, he should continue to test the limits of what is possible in electronic music.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10
Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “With An Addict”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Alarm”
Jim Krueger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.