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Album review:Caribou's Dan Snaith's 'Jiaolong'

October 16, 2012|By Randall Roberts
  • "Jiaolong"
"Jiaolong"

Dan Snaith is best known under his pseudonym Caribou, where he makes deeply emotional, smartly crafted electronic music. A master programmer and instrumentalist, Snaith has continued to expand his sound since his early work as Manitoba, crafting luscious tunes that reveal a curious mind at work.

A few years ago, however, Snaith started to get nostalgic for the early sounds of techno and house culture, and harnessed that energy through a project called Daphni. He'd been frustrated with the new breed of pop-friendly EDM, and wondered whether the genre's success had ruined the music.

He found that it hadn't. "Against my expectations, there's some magic in it still," he wrote, describing the modern version of dance music as "bland and functional" and "EDM barfsplosion." But, he added, "there is a small world where dance music lives up to its potential to liberate, surprise, and innovate. It's there that I hope Daphni has a place."

It does, as evidenced by "Jiaolong," which boasts nine timeless dance-floor bangers that resurrect a moment. Hints of early Detroit techno tracks by Richie Hawtin and Underground Resistance can be heard in "Light," which features the frantic sound of the Roland TR-909 drum machine and a sampled synthetic flute. In "Ye Ye," Snaith has built a track that feels teleported from 1993, a primal jam with a bouncy rhythm and wobbly bass tones. And "Jiao" is an acid-house freakout, which will no doubt massage the neurotransmitters of many old-school ravers' brains.

"Jiaolong"
Daphni
(Merge Records)
Three and a half stars

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