Against All Logic leads electronic music into future with album "2017-2019"


In February 2018, Chilean-American musician and producer Nicolas Jaar, who already had a strong footing in the electronic music scene, unexpectedly dropped an album under the moniker Against All Logic. Titled "2012-2017," the album consists of sample-heavy, chic house tracks presumably concocted during those years as his side project. Now, Jaar is back with his latest album "2017-2019."

It seemed as if Jaar didn’t realize how top-notch these tracks from "2012-2017" were. The album seemingly has the ability to time-travel listeners to a Manhattan nightclub in the summer of 2050. Warm and uplifting in some moments, while nocturnal and enthralling in others, "2012-2017" seemed to answer the questions that many house and electronic music fans were pondering as the decade was reaching its final chapter. Where is music headed?

Jaar’s two years prior to the new album were relatively quiet, appearing only to produce for other artists like avant-pop star FKA twigs. 

Then, almost exactly two years later, and at the start of the 2020s, Jaar decided to take electronic music even farther into the future with "2017-2019." 

If the last album sounds like the music of 2050, then "2017-2019" sounds like post-apocalyptic rave music from the year 2200, in a time where rogue drones patrol the world and nightclubs are discreetly hidden in the dimly lit sewers.

The opening track on the album, “Fantasy,” samples a prominent artifact of early 2000s contemporary R&B, Beyoncé and Sean Paul’s “Baby Boy.” Jaar finds a way to chop up Beyoncé’s vocal track into an ethereal club beat that features versatile percussion and dystopian synths. The album’s mysterious and cryptic tone, which is hinted at through the album’s artwork (which features a stock photo of a soldier with an iPhone), is established with the track.

The enigmatic tone of the first track carries into the second track, “If Loving You is Wrong.” It samples the vocals of a 1972 soul song of the same name (from American R&B artist Luther Ingram) and interpolates them into a smooth, atmospheric house beat with abrasive, crashing sounds mixed in. 

This then smoothly transitions into “With an Addict,” a sprawling 7-minute EDM track that consists of nuanced drum-programming and waves of synths. This track proves that Jaar is dipping his toes into more experimental electronic subgenres, taking influence from avant-garde electronic pioneers like Aphex Twin.

The next track, “If You Can’t Do it Good, Do it Hard,” signals a significant tonal shift in the album’s track flow. The song, featuring a screeching, vulgar vocal excerpt from no-wave pioneer Lydia Lunch, is downright dissonant and atonal. The song is completely driven by hard-hitting drums and distortion. 

The climax of the album’s rising tensions are in the next two tracks, “Alarm” and “Deeeeeeefers.” “Alarm,” a 2-minute track which essentially acts as a setup for the following track, stays true to its name with a metallic synth loop and harsh, gnarled drums. This seamlessly flows into “Deeeeeeefers,” a gargantuan cyberpunk epic with heavily layered, pulsating synth work and a pounding four on the floor beat. 

The final three tracks of the record act as the final chapter in the album’s flow, abandoning the dark, grinding qualities of the album’s middle section in favor of something lighter and more graceful. 

“Faith” is a minimal, silky house track with escalating synths and an ambient outro. This flows into “Penny,” a serene, nostalgic dance track with a crunchy kick. The sunlit song marches forward like a hyperspeed timelapse. The album’s final track “You (forever),” is an atmospheric, abstract piece that closes the project with a fragile and melancholic aura.

Compared to "2012-2017," which embraces itself as a compilation of creative dance tracks, "2017-2019" is a much more focused and conceptual project that has rising and falling action. Against All Logic now feels like Nicolas Jaar’s main project: His fixation on making groundbreaking dance music has intensified and has lifted him up as one of the defining electronic musicians of his era.


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