Nicolas Jaar announced presale of his label’s newest compilation a few days back, simultaneously confusing and delighting music fans with the medium he chose to release it on. The Don’t Break My Love Prism is a palm-sized cube preloaded with tracks by Jaar and his collaborators, standing alone as a storage device and a player.
No word on whether or not you can extract the music from it, load additional files onto it, or use it for anything besides playing this one set of tracks. This real-life Tairy Greene Machine certainly makes a point about the commodity of music, and you know it will work because every time you listen to those songs, the concept of the Prism won’t be far from thought. There’s word that this format will be used for future Clown & Sunset releases as well.
Jaar’s rethinking of a release format goes along with statements he recently made to the Guardian regarding the business side of his music, establishing absolute rules for his career right at its outset—no major labels, no major productions, no major remixes, and no major money. His self-proclaimed focus is the creation of excellent music, and that’s the dragon he’s ridden to notoriety. So what kinds of artists does a guy like Nicolas Jaar bring along for the ride?
The artists featured on Don’t Break My Love, members of Jaar’s Clown & Sunset imprint, are a mysterious, international pack of producers who are a part of Jaar’s grand vision of what music should be, instrumental in his audacity to try and achieve it. These aren’t baseball-hat-wearing, MPC slamming kids from Germany, nor are they vintage-synth-collecting shut-ins from the UK. These are music-history-knowing, erudite young musicians who probably listen to ambient music more honestly than you or I.
Let’s take a look at some of these producers and hear some of their tunes.
Born in France and raised in Ecuador, Cruz rose from a musical family and started playing music at an early age. His music has an aesthetic of educated downtempo—less Buddha Bar and more Jazzanova.
As a childhood friend, Stip apparently taught Jaar how to play classical Piano. Stip’s own productions are bass-heavy pieces that always break into a satisfying rhythm.
There’s a bit of internet speculation that Quasim is actually an alias of Jaar’s. This is wholly possible, and reminds us how cool it must be to be 22 and already have the opportunity to go Aphex Twin on your listeners. As per that standard, Quasim’s tracks are atmospheric pieces rather unlike Jaar’s productions under his own name.
This Ehtiopian, Paris-based musician is a travel acquaintance of Jaar’s who had reportedly quit music until meeting Jaar and Nicola Cruz. The song “Democracy, I Was Thirsty” is a collaboration with Jaar, and yes, that’s a sample of Swan Lake on vinyl playing under the hook.
Though he’s not listed on the official Clown & Sunset roster, Abramyan’s collaboration with Brandon Wolcott opens up Don’t Break My Love. His elusive nature online somewhat characterizes him as yet another alias of Jaar’s, but assuming so leads us down a slippery slope of assumption. Is Jaar everyone on his label? Is Jaar actually Burial? Is Burial actually John Foxx? Was Michael Jackson actually Janet Jackson? You know what would be the perfect soundtrack to this train of thought? Emil Abramyan.
For more Clown & Sunset artists, check out their website.