Monday, August 27, 2007

Dan Snaith Rules, OK?

This week at The White Noise Revisited we are going to be celebrating the music of Dan Snaith or the artist formerly known as Manitoba who now records under the pseudonym Caribou. I am a massive fan of Snaith’s work, and last week he released his fourth album, and first for City Slang, ‘Andorra’. It’s an absolutely brilliant album, so I’ve decided to dedicate this whole week to the man and his music - a kind of career overview if you will, starting at the beginning and working towards ‘Andorra’ by Friday. It’s been one hell of a musical odyssey for Snaith, and his sound has developed so much over the past seven years that the complex electronics of his original output bear little relation to the sun-kissed psychedelic pop of his latest opus. Somehow it’s a journey that makes sense, and hopefully the songs I post over the next few days will join all the dots.

For starters I’ve changed the music on TWNR Ghetto, which is over on the right-hand sidebar for those of you who’ve never used it before. It now features 10 of my favourite Manitoba/Caribou songs (demonstrating my biased love of his second album ‘Up In Flames’ – an absolute psychedelic classic), which I’ve listed at the end of this post, including information on which album or single the songs originally featured. Hope you enjoy it. I’ll probably keep it up there for a month or so, mainly because it is quite fiddly and time consuming to change it all around. You might need to empty your cache in order to update the player.

I first came across the music of Dan Snaith when I picked up his debut single, a four-track 12” EP released on the Leaf label in 2000. Snaith is a classically trained pianist and masters-qualified Pure Mathematician, and both of these elements were represented in his early work. A combination of skittering percussion, twitchy electronics, rainbow melodies, half-heard children’s voices and snatches of found sound marked Snaith out as one to watch. Despite his obvious geek credentials and though complex in its construction, the EP was also warm and bursting with creativity, balancing the computer’s heart against more human elements. The EP drew press comparisons between Snaith and Boards of Canada, owing to the warm, analogue melodies and samples of children’s voices.

Manitoba - James' Second Haircut

I’m posting the track ‘James’ Second Haircut’, which was the second track on the EP and also featured on the subsequent debut album ‘Start Breaking My Heart’, which was released on Leaf in 2001. A reflective post-rock guitar riff is set against rattling electro percussion and a pretty melody - classic Manitoba.

‘Start Breaking My Heart’ was well-received by the press, and along with his contemporary Kieran ‘Four Tet’ Hebden, Snaith wooed the critics by adding elements of crazed jazz fusion and a cacophony of horns into the mix on songs like ‘Paul’s Birthday’ and ‘Mammals vs. Reptiles’, demonstrating the influence of artists like Sun-Ra. As with all Snaith’s work, ‘Start Breaking My Heart’ also showcased his love of percussion, with off-kilter drum breaks and sudden explosions of rapid-fire laser beats in evidence throughout the album.

Manitoba - Tits & Ass: The Great Canadian Weekend

Snaith followed ‘Start Breaking My Heart’ with the ‘Give’r’ EP, which took a slight detour from the sounds of his debut as a remix of album track ‘Dundas, Ontario’ took in hammering, two-step style breaks. Over on the flip it was business as usual (barring the title) with ‘Tits & Ass: The Great Canadian Weekend’ which slowed things down a tad with a cascading live drum break, a pulsing bass, sampled voices and an exquisite melody. I’d imagine the title is probably ironic coming from a Maths-geek, though I guess maybe even Snaith likes to let his hair down and indulge himself every now and then. But maybe not like that.

More tomorrow…


1. Dundas, Ontario: Manitoba (Start Breaking My Heart LP)
2. Hendrix With Ko: Manitoba (Up In Flames LP)
3. Skunks: Manitoba (Up In Flames LP)
4. Hello Hammerheads: Caribou (The Milk of Human Kindness LP)
5. Thistles And Felt: Manitoba (Jacknuggeted B-side)
6. Cherrybomb: Manitoba (Hendrix with KO B-side)
7. Crayon: Manitoba (Up In Flames LP)
8. People Eating Fruit: Manitoba (Start Breaking My Heart LP)
9. Kid You'll Move Mountains: Manitoba (Up In Flames LP)
10. Barnowl: Caribou (The Milk of Human Kindness LP)

Buy Caribou from Norman Records
Caribou website
Caribou My Space