Caribou is Dan Snaith. Formerly known as Manitoba but forced to change his moniker after Handsome Dick Manitoba of the punk band The Dictators threatened to sue. He’s also earned a PhD in Mathematics from Imperial College in London and in 2008 won Canada’s prestigious Poloris Music Prize for his album Andorra. Needless to say, Snaith already has a unique collection of accomplishments. With those achievements under his belt, much anticipation has surrounded the release of his latest album Swim. Inspired by Snaith’s wife purchasing swimming lessons for him as a Christmas gift, the album finds a salvation of sorts in the water. Swim has a melodic liquid musicality that differs from anything previously released by Snaith.
“Odessa” opens the album with an oozy rubbery bassline, an IDM inspired collection of percussion, very subtle 70’s dark disco guitar riffs, and Snaith’s cool and calmly executed vocals. The beat moves into “Sun” where Snaith creates an electric pulsation bouncing off the open high hat tittering of the House drums by simply repeating the word sun over and over with electronic manipulation. The effect is reminiscent of bubbles, waves and undulations, a melodious feel that is carried throughout Swim.
On “Kaili” tinges of Kenna, Fennesz and Boards of Canada creep in but the track remains stylistically Caribou as it unfolds to include a wide span of organic and electronic instrumentation coalescing into a diverse composition whose dark milieu is simultaneously controlled and serendipitous. The result is a fluidity that seems to have come directly from Snaith’s swimming endeavor. Genres flow in and out rapidly, some sticking around for a while and others resonating for only a second.
“Leave House” nearly resembles Junior Boys covering tracks from Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. With an overall brooding sexuality, the track remains dancy as the egg shaker in front of the dark bass tones expands the sound, giving it a certain modal spaciousness. “Hannibal” begins with instrumental narration. The horns swell and around the middle of the song Caribou transitions into a mix of experimental IDM and dancy alt pop. “Lalibela” and Jamelia” (with guest vocals from Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians) continue to represent the flowing motions of Swim’s undulating concepts.
Overall, Caribou’s latest comes off as his most personal. It’s dance music that washes around and comes splashing out of every speaker. Sounds emerge, reappear and submerge themselves back into the tracks. Swim is a must listen for any fan of Caribou’s complex composition. It may take newcomers a few listens while wading around the shallow end before going off into the deep, but those familiar will be more than happy to slap on their goggles and dive in.
Learn more about Caribou via Domino Records
by: Bene Garcia