If Only A State Of Peace by Nur Jaber
Contemplative subject matter in the form of intelligent dance music
Like a painter advancing to abstract expressionism after years of mastering their trade and honing their skills by depicting inanimate objects, when an artist chooses to present new work unlike their previous, celebrated fare, it's often seen as a producer's pilgrimage, a spreading of the creative wings and exploring new realms. It's a healthy thing to do as an artist, to grow, evolve and discover alternative voices. Some of my fav music in the last few years has been from artists in this phase of their careers, like JK Flesh, who, over the course of his last three EPs, has steadily transformed his Industrial Metal heritage into the finest form of Techno. Or back in 2015, having built a solid reputation for her Techno and Electro, Dasha Rush surprised many with her beautiful Ambient album Sleepstep. And earlier this year, Anthony Linell released one of my all-time favs with his sublime mini-album A Sense of Order; the melancholic balance of pain and tranqulity in direct contrast to his formative deep Techno compositions as Abdulla Rashim.
While Nur Jaber's story observes this sense of exploration, her level of experience doesn't quite correlate. Three EPs into her short career the Lebanese DJ, musician and label owner has just released her debut album and confounded many in the process.
Moving out of war-torn Beirut in 2010, Jaber studied Jazz at Berklee before settling in Berlin, where she discovered Techno at Berghain. She gained recognition for a unique DJing style that combined playing records with live vocals and 909 drums, before landing a STAUB residency at ://about blank. But it took seven years to release her first music There He Goes (a shared EP with Chris Braun). After that, two further EPs quickly followed (all in the same year) with the track Weapons Of Mass Destruction in particular receiving much acclaim; Jaber using her troubled homeland as inspiration. Unsurprsingly, the same powerful themes are carried over into her album If Only - A State Of Peace.
Composed of nine tracks that rouse the senses through both the music and its political message, beautiful Ambient and subtle Techno never sounded so good together. Gone are the bludgeoning beats and the anger-filled vibes, replaced instead with a calmer, maturer outlook. Opening track A State of Peace is a clear mission statement, the artist's blunt desires presented through an emotive, rising melody, which is the key strength here: Techno motifs wrapped in mournful, melancholic melody that encourages deep thought. Jaber's vocals seem to cleanse the music of any euphoric escapism associated with club tracks, instead guiding the listener towards awareness and contemplation. The Spirit Molecule for instance, hints at moving the mind into other dimensions (escaping reality) and uses a subtle Acid riff to emphasise the journey. Let Me Go sounds like a yearning soliloquy, reaching out to a greater power. Late at Night and A World Where Nothing Else Matters may each be underpinned with 4x4 beats but we're nowhere near the dancefloor. The highlight for me is The End is Near, its descending guitar notes wearily accepting there's little chance of world peace in our lifetime.
- Rating: 9/10
- Listens: 23
- Highlight: The End Is Near
- Label: OSF
- Release Date: 14th May 2018
- Format: Digital + Vinyl