Swim – Caribou

I was pretty shocked (and upset) to find that there are no Caribou mentions or reviews on CYHT, so in an effort to spam the site with obscure electronic music I thought I’d review my favourite album of his – ‘Swim’

‘Swim’ is the third effort from the doctor of maths that is Dan Snaith, aka Caribou. Luckily, though, for over 10 years he’s given up the maths and has been making music, mixing with the likes of Four Tet, The Flaming Lips and Sun Ra; giving an idea of how Caribou’s forward-thinking sound has developed.

Snaith has said that he wants to make dance music which sounds more like water than metal, and the swirling and swishing effects on opener Odessa are perfect exemplars of this theory. He almost whispers over the sound waves, but the beats are never anything less than mathematically precise, starting with a funky bassline that builds on layers of percussion until there’s even some cowbell thrown in (and who doesn’t love more cowbell?!). The track – the album’s lead single, too – features a slightly darker edge than we’re used to; certainly the rhythms on it are insistent rather than dreamy. Perhaps the subject matter here – which apparently touches on loneliness – is also at play. But Swim, as a whole, is far from a depressing listen – in fact there are moments which are almost transcendental, such as on the uplifting ‘Kaili,’ and each track is never far from an infectious groove that won’t leave you in an abyss of electronic beeps and synths for long.

At the other end of the album, the closing ‘Jamelia’ features the twisted and tribal vocals of Born Ruffians’ singer Luke LaLonde. It acts as the sister piece to Swim’s dramatic opener, with the two songs bookending a record that incorporates a meticulous approach to dance music and one that is intended to be appreciated by intelligent listeners. Other highlights of the record include tracks ‘Bowls’ and ‘Found Out,’ both of which feature tightly controlled and beautifully arranged beats that leave no room for improvement – rather just instant enjoyment.

So, if you like your intricate dance music and haven’t heard of Caribou or ‘Swim’ the  you should go out and buy the record; I guarantee you’ll enjoy it (and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself for it).

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