DARKSIDE, the brainchild of Nicolás Jaar and Dave Harrington, debuted their first album, Psychic (VMP Essentials No. 101), during what feels like a lifetime ago in 2013. Despite gathering significant acclaim for the debut album, it seemed like it was a one-and-done deal — up until now. Without a doubt, the wait for the Psychic’s follow up was a lengthy one, but the destination proves it was well worth it.
DARKSIDE’S sophomore album Spiral takes a slightly different approach than the first album, leaning even more heavily into the psychedelic sound with some of its sonic textures. Opening with “Narrow Road,” the album quietly tiptoes into the room like an old friend surprising you after a decade of being apart. The drawn-out ambience provides the perfect backdrop for glitchy, squelchy sounds and almost a cacophony of notes that, when heard attentively, make perfect sense.
The album seamlessly transitions to one of its higher tempo offerings and one of the singles released prior to Spiral. The guitars and percussion sneak into the forefront for “The Limit,” but the song itself draws up an intermission within itself, coupled with striking percussion and mind-bending effects. Drifting forward, “Lawmaker” features a more hushed and spoken vocal performance by Jaar that bounces between the ears.
Spiral’s eponymous track begins with a cascade of notes blended so well together, it appears difficult to pinpoint and pull a distinct sound. Jaar’s filtered vocals — echoing like an omniscient voice filling the canals of your ears and creases of your mind — guide the experience into an atmosphere of a hollowed crystal, where every inch surrounding you glistens and reflects back with your eyes staring back.
“Liberty Bell” was the first single Jaar and Harrington dropped when the two first announced DARKSIDE’s return and Spiral. The track takes on a groovier sound, with the bass more apparent and the guitar twinging across melodies and evolving into a solo toward the outro, oscillating between notes.
Spiral signals the anticipated return of DARKSIDE. Despite how lethargically the days always seem to start and the nights seem to end, the album pulls us from the lulls. With a set of good headphones on, it becomes easy to fall deep into Jaar and Harrington’s soundscape. As we begin with each sunrise, stumbling out of bed, Spiral provides a sound that reorients us, enchanting us with last night’s dreams.