"History Lesson" by NICOLAS JAAR

A taste of reality
Sometimes writing can be profound not because what is said is original and said beautifully or elegantly written, but simply because it is said, period. Sometimes the most painfully obvious statements can be the most moving and thought-provoking. Nicolas Jaar’s “History Lesson,” off of his new album Sirens, has some of the most brief and simple lyrics you’ll find; he walks us through the different “chapters” of history, bluntly stating how we (humans) “f*cked up,” “did it again, and again, and again”, “didn’t say sorry,” “lied,” etc. Jaar, known for his dark, purposeful, melancholy, ambient productions, lays down some of the slowest and most basic beats known to man, leaving lots of empty space on his sonic canvas. At roughly 70 beats per minute, unimaginably lethargic by today’s standards, Jaar, for most of the song, employs nothing but alternating quarter note kick and snare thwacks and half note surges of muted synths behind the melodic hum of background vocals and his sparing lyrical quips. 
As the pages of “History Lesson” are gently turned, Jaar adds more consistent, ambient synths notes to slowly build up the energy, before pausing and subsequently unleashing a startling barrage of dissonant, echoing percussion that blends seemingly random attacks on certain drums and rhythmic patterns on others. Out of nowhere, amidst the percussive assault, a wailing guitar solo starts, and abruptly ends after four measures, and we are left back again with the percussion, which seems to take on a recognizable and not as aimless sounding pattern near the end just as it fades out. “History Lesson” is an avant-garde masterpiece, a swirl of confusion and inspiration that breaks down human history to its core.