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Essential Listening: Dan Snaith

Essential Listening: Dan Snaith

Not content with merely boasting an extraordinary back catalogue of some of the most interesting electronic music to be made in the last decade, Canadian singer, composer and producer Dan Snaith has earned himself pretty much unanimous respect as one of music’s nice guys. Recent years have seen the mild mannered man behind Caribou, Daphni, the stupendous Jiaolong label, release a shed-load of albums, become an in-demand DJ and live musician, and even earn himself a PhD in Mathematics. A busy man year in year out, Snaith has refused to rest on his laurels once again this year, and organised himself a packed summer schedule performing at various festivals.

In our excitement ahead of his slots at the likes of Field DayBluedot and Citadel, we’ve picked out six highlights from his impressive back catalogue.

Manitoba - Dundas Ontario
Though best-known as Daphni or Caribou, Snaith originally went by the name Manitoba, until forced to drop it in when threatened with a lawsuit by punk singer Richard "Handsome Dick" Manitoba. Under this moniker, Snaith released two albums, the first of which included the wonderful “Dundas Ontario”, a track laced with beautiful gentle melodies and slow attack chimes. 

Caribou - Hello Hammerheads 
Snaith’s first effort under the Caribou moniker produced 2005’s The Milk of Human Kindness. The record took a step away from the midi sounds that were present over the course of his previous album, incorporating a range of instrumentation to create a collection of tracks with a distinctly natural aura. Although it is unlikely to find it’s way into any of his DJ sets, the gentle Hello Hammerheads falls in the softer side of Snaith’s production spectrum with its angelic harmonies and tranquil guitar.  

Cos-Ber-Zam - Ne Noya (Daphni Mix)
Drawn from the Daphni album Jiaolong, this edit of Togo’s Cos-Ber-Zam takes a track from 1973, strips it of its brighter melodies and transforms it into a club rumbler. A menacing bass, spiralling highs and the original vocals make it a distinctive remix that touches on funk before descending into darker territory. The album’s other two standout tracks, “Ye Ye” and “Pairs”, could also have easily made our list.

DJ Koze feat. Caribou - Track ID Anyone?
Dan Snaith counts the likes of Floating Points and Four Tet as both contemporaries and friends, and the popular Canadian also lent a hand to Pampa boss DJ Koze for the opening track of his absurdly brilliant album Amygdala. Intermittent bells, grotesquely twisting synth lines and Snaith’s softly wavering vocals make it a perfectly odd start to a perfectly odd album, and as vocal loops intercross in the latter stages, the comfortable disharmony that marks the track out as a masterpiece of eccentricity is in full flow.

Daphni & Owen Pallett - Julia
Daphni teamed up with another talented friend in Owen Pallett in 2014, with the two Ontarians combining to release the EP Julia/Tiberius on Snaith’s Jiaolong label. Featuring sharp strings from Pallett, “Julia” sits on heavy subs and is sawed open by a jagged synth line, with some crisply thrown together drum loops making it an excellent DJ tool.

Caribou - Mars
Plucked from one of 2014’s standout crossover albums, “Mars” sits among pop tracks like “Can’t Do Without You” and “Your Love Will Set You Free”, yet sounds like it could have been written by Murlo. Most discernible thanks to flittering flutes that could be pulled straight from a grime instrumental, the track spars with battling cross-rhythms and battering snares in its armoury. 

Caribou - Odessa
Football fans might remember this one from the FIFA 11 soundtrack, with a bizarre looping soundbite sitting somewhere between a creaking door and a scream getting lost in a windtunnel.  Dubbed out bass hits and some typically soft vocals give it a vintage Snaith sound, with gameboy acid tinges demonstrating why his music seems so suited to both a wonky club or an indie playlist. 

Words by Andrew Kemp
Photos courtesy of Windish Agency

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Essential Listening: Dan Snaith

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