It was just over a month ago that Nicolas Jaar streamed released his first solo EP in four years. This week, he's done one better, offering his new album Pomegranates completely free of charge. You can download the whole thing by clicking here.
The album itself, going by first impressions, looks like a pretty in depth affair. Positioned as an alternative soundtrack to 1969 Soviet movie, The Colour of Pomegranates, the record clocks in at twenty tracks, with a sound naturally, and decisively, geared towards ambience. Followers of Jaar, and his work with Darkside, will be no strangers to the sonic universe that is conjured on the record, it is safe to say, however, that this is his most immersive exploration of this world to date. Tracks like "Survival" and "Shame" do crackle into a semblance of a beat, but largely the attention here has gone into something far more sprawling. There is also a more aggressive, glitchy side on display with cuts like "The Fool and his Harem" and "Beasts of this Earth" descending into Arca-like territory.
The album download comes with a note written by Jaar, that reads as follows:
I started making most of the music that is found on "pomegranates" before I had seen the movie or was aware of its existence.
The first song, for example, was made on one of the first fall nights of 2014. I had just returned from a year-long Darkside tour and was really happy to be back home. I was making music in my living room when a huge water bug started dancing on top of some cables on the floor. Instead of killing it, I decided to make music for it. I called the song "Garden of Eden" because I slowly started seeing the little creature as my friend and helper, and my studio as a garden (with all the wires!).
The next song was originally made for a TV show that I was asked to score. When it became clear to me that the show was not what I signed up for, I decided to part ways, which left me with hours of soundtrack music. I only used a dozen minutes of it for "pomegranates", not sure what to do with the rest!
"Survival" was originally meant to be the backing track for "Ghetto", a track I produced for Dj Slugo where he talks about growing up in Chicago.
"Shame" is a beat I made for a rapper, that was declined.
At the end of 2014, I lived with my parents for six months while in between apartments. I didn't have a studio, just a piano, some microphones and headphones. That's when I wrote "Muse".
"Volver" is a choir version of an unreleased track called "Revolver" I made in 2011 that will come out this year hopefully. Anyways, I could go on and on.
A the beginning of 2015 my friend Milo heard some of these songs and told me about the film. I watched it and was dumbfounded. I felt the aesthetic made complete sense with the strange themes I had been obsessed with over the past couple of years..I was curious to see what my songs sounded like when synced with the images, which turned into a 2-day bender where I soundtracked the entire film, creating a weird collage of the ambient music I had made over the last 2 years.
The film gave me a structure to follow and themes to stick to. It gave clarity to this music that was made mostly out of and through chaos. It also gave me the balls to put it out…
I wanted to do some screenings but the guy who owns the rights to the film only wants the original version of the movie out there. I can't blame him, I'm sure Paradjanov wouldn't want some kid in NY pissing all over his masterpiece and calling it a soundtrack! I've listened to it a couple of times without watching the movie and I think it stands on its own. Or at least I hope it can!
I was still living at my childhood home when I finished "pomegranates". On March 1st, I arrived in my new home and it was completely empty except for a baby tree. The owner was there to greet me and he asked me if I wanted to keep the baby tree because he had nowhere to put it and no one to give it to. I agreed to keep it and take care of it.
Before he left I asked him what kind of tree it was. He told me it's a pomegranate tree. He had no idea I had just put this out!
So there it is, it's yours now!
ps. check the pic of the little tree!
Angus Harrison is on Twitter.