REVIEW: “Jiaolong” by Daphni

Daniel Snaith holds a PhD in mathematics from Imperial College London. To relax between proofs he would make electronica on his iBook. (This is what British kids actually do when Americans think they are playing Quidditch.)

Snaith first recorded under the name Manitoba until getting a cease&desist letter from Canada or some such. He then released 3 albums under the name Caribou (who proved to be less litigious than the mounties what mount them).

The third of these albums, Swim, was named album of the year by Resident Advisor and given a suitably fabulous review by Pitchfork. It was subsequently blessed by the Pope and declared a lost book of the Tanakh by the Lubavetcher Rebbe, but compared to good reviews by RA and P4K nobody cares.

The opening track, “Odessa”, is probably the most interesting thing that Indie has done in half a decade. It is also destined to be part of a dozen master’s theses on the subject of indie breakouts having singles named after cities in Eastern Europe. Instrumental track “Bowls” is, with proper headphones, only slightly more satisfying than a pint of Rocky Road being injected into the pleasure center of the brain.

Snaith said that he mixed & rejected over 700 songs in order to come up with the 9 that make this album. After hundreds of listens, I am inclined to agree – and wish he’d release the tracks that didn’t make it.

Caribou is now the opening act for Radiohead. Which was occasioned by Thom Yorke getting Daniel Snaith’s cell phone number from his web site, calling him, and asking him if he wanted to FRONT FOR FUCKING RADIOHEAD. The only downside of this arrangement is that, in order to see him live, I will need to acquire Radiohead tickets. So if anyone needs me I will be A) waiting in line in front of a TicketMaster and B) asking passers-by for spare change. Probably at gun-point.

When he’s not on tour playing to arenas full of Kid A fanboys, Snaith plays dancehalls. It is, apparently, his favorite thing in the world. Many DJs of his sort will play 30-minute sets, sometimes, perhaps, an hour; some will play an extended version of one of their album releases & then call that a hard day’s work all done. Snaith likes playing until he is physically incapable of playing more. Or, say, standing up. His 7-hour performance in Stuttgart was apparently a record for a club that has been open for 30 years. Aficionados said it was his best show to date. I wish I had been there.

When he is just playing dancehalls – that is, without Pablo K. Computer & The Bendy Amnesiacs following him – he plays under the name Daphni. Jiaolong is the first album he has released under that name. It contains songs which were originally impromptu compositions while he was spinning for clubs. Any relation which they bear to each other is purely coincidental.

(That is to say, any relationship this bears to an Album, as opposed to A Group Of Songs. Look at me commenting on the postphysical age’s repurposing of the constraints of the predigital! Joseph Schumpeter called… breathed heavily into the receiver for a while & then hung up.)

Much of this album – particularly the yawning drop beat in the opening track “Yes I Know,” the Ecstacy Of Gold-like pace of single “Ye Ye,” and the titanium sprockets/Terry Gilliam directs Journey To The West of “Jiao” – I hear as an attempt to expand upon the visceral pleasure of the dubsteb wubble, which, owing to its very ubiquity, has become stale in the ears of the world. Jiaolong is not stale. In fact I have been listening to it a considerable amount for 3 months, with, I am pleased to say, no end in sight.

It is the Holy Trifecta of indie music: it is experimental; it is good; it does not rely on its newness for its goodness. It is headphone music for people who want to feel like they have ripped off their headphones and run through the night to the hippest club in the world – to find that the club is empty, just them and the dancefloor and the DJ spinning just for them. This is what happens when a recording artist has done his Gladwell 10,000 & is going back for another. This is what happens when a musician is just really, really good.

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~ by davekov on 10 July 2013.

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