Joe Muggs

By Joe Muggs

on 10.12.12 in Reviews



As Caribou, Canadian producer/multi instrumentalist Dan Snaith has honed his richly-layered, electronically-enhanced psychedelia over the course of four albums. No longer a leftfield curio, the dreamy textures of 20011′s Swim were praised by the club music establishment and indie experimentalists alike, and landed Snaith a spot supporting Radiohead in their stadium shows. At the same time, he has quietly been putting out DJ-friendly 12″ releases under the Daphni alias, which puts a greater focus on the dance pulse underpinning Caribou songs. Like his friend and frequent collaborator Kieran “Four Tet” Hebden, Snaith has distilled his sonic experiments, making house music in its purest form.

Caribou’s Dan Snaith goes back to the principles of house

That doesn’t mean it’s nakedly retro, though, or that it repeats the clichés of standard club tracks. Rather, Snaith has gone right back to the first principles of house, proving how much can be done through the repetition of simple, but well-chosen elements. Each track is built on a steady electronic kick drum, a funky sample and some big rubbery synthesiser noise repeated over and over with alteration of layering and effects creating the structure. But the variety he wrings from that is fantastic: within the house grooves, he absorbs ’70s Afro-funk (as in “Ne Noya” and the cowbell-riddled “Pairs”), vintage soul (the Buddy Miles-sampling “Yes I Know”) and early 20th-century electronic experimentalism (the amazing “Jiao” which sounds like minimalist composer Terry Riley getting down at the disco) with equal ease.

In short, the album is about total sensualism – about a direct and delightful effect on the nervous system. It might be simple in approach, but the ingenuity with which the most basic swooshes, boings, clonks and loops are arranged into hip-twitching, butt-wiggling structures is nothing short of sublime.