Daar’s Entire has some of my favorite album art in recent memory; every time I see its imagery, I become transfixed and unable to look away. Given its abstract nature, though, I’m not sure what I’m looking at, exactly — maybe a gracefully fluted glass sculpture or perhaps some rivulets of water suspended in laminar flow. In any case, the lines and curves impart a sense of grace that’s instantly calming even as the hues of green, blue, and silvery gold leave me reeling at their rich depths.
The prevailing sense that I get, however, is one of glimpsing another world that’s obscured. For starters, the dark shapes in the bottom half resemble human forms while the lighter colors in the top half suggest a lightening sky — to my eyes, anyway. Of course, given the image’s supremely abstract nature, I can never know for sure. Which means that for all its beauty, the imagery’s also discomfiting and unsettling; I’ll never be able to get around to the other side and see what’s really there. (And even if I could, I’m not sure that I’d want to, lest I break the spell.)
That just so happens to be an apropos reaction to Entire’s music, as well.
Álvaro Aragonés — the man behind the Daar moniker — is a master sound sculptor, something I’ve come to associate with the Silent Season label. With their muted synth textures and field recordings (e.g., ocean sounds, seabird cries), “Waves Your Back Describes” and the title track crystallize the impressions generated by Entire’s artwork. You sense that both songs contain entire worlds, albeit worlds whose beauty is merely suggested, and thus, remains forever intangible, undefined, and out of reach.
“Interlude I — Walk” filters snippets of conversation through glassy tones, evoking snapshots of bustling life and community. The conversations aren’t in English, which necessarily puts me on the outside once again, though I suspect I’d have a similar response even if I could understand. “Coda” does something similar, but Aragonés mutes all of the conversations until you just hear the suggestion of human communication, never any of the actual words or language. Interestingly, one of Entire’s strongest tracks is also its most straightforward: “Mellow Green Eyed Soul” eschews field recordings and surreal sound design for beats and modular synthesis, and despite sounding out of place, is a solid slab of ambient techno in its own right.
I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand what’s going on, either in Entire’s artwork or in its 44 minutes. But what I’ve glimpsed and heard so far is enough to ensure that I’ll keep coming back again and again, and each time, try to comprehend it all just a little bit more.