Whilst Caribou tour the globe throughout 2012 in support of Radiohead, Dan Snaith has fallen deeper into his love affair with the dancefloor, to bring us a full length release as Daphni. The first Daphni album of shape-shifting works is JIAOLONG (pron. Jowlong), to be released on his own imprint in the UK, and on Merge in North America on 8/9 October respectively.
Alongside Caribou’s ongoing world tour schedule, Dan concurrently hits club nights in each city, DJinginto the wee hours, searching for that sweet spot. “DJs have the potential to blindside you,” Snaith says. “During the time I was making the Caribou albu Swim, I’d fallen back in love with moments in small, dark clubs when a DJ puts on a piece of music tha not only can you not identify, but that until you heard it, you could not have conceived of existing.”
Inspired to work in a completely different way – setting aside the meticulous compositional rigours and musical layers underpinning Caribou songs – Dan Snaith-as-Daphni reaches out for a more feminine, fluid energy, and seeks instant gratification. “Daphni tracks are rough and spontaneous,” he explains. “They’re about working fast and intuitively, capturing the manic energy needed to start a track one afternoon, and have it finished and be playing it in a club that night.”
Daphni’s first foray was a re-imagining of Cortney Tidwell’s ‘Watusii’ in 2009. Wrapping her vocal in a gloriously layered and tripped out fourteen minute bundle of joy, that snuck up gently, grew relentlessly and left listeners dizzy and euphoric, this musical template has been locked in place ever since. Who says man cannot squeeze soul from machines?
Acclaimed remixes of Hot Chip and Emeralds have followed, while the first Daphni track itself was a split 12” with Four Tet in the form of ‘Ye-Ye’ – a subby and plundering tune that positively screams for an open window to cool down. It was and still is a blistering opening gambit, as was the follow up 12” ‘Ne Noya’ - his mix of Cos-Ber-Zam with its superb aquatic rumblings, which also featured the acidic soulful throb of ‘Yes, I Know’ and the afro-centric synth-haze that is ‘Jiao’.
“Electronic instruments are notoriously uncontrollable, unpredictable and recalcitrant!” Snaith says ruefully. “I’ve been building a modular synthesizer, which plays a prominent role in this album. It growls or screams when I don’t expect it to. Nudging one dial changes the sound so drastically that I’ll never get the original sound back. It’s more like improvising with another musician, and its voice is all over this music.”
Exclusive tracks for this essential collection are the bubbling rat-a-tat of ‘Light’, the perfect synergy of percussive-zing and computer flash in ‘Pairs’, the Pterodactyl-swing of ‘Springs’ & the undulating finale of ‘Long’.
JIAOLONG sits easily with the kinetic likes of Theo Parrish and Floating Points, and is sure to be seen as one of the best records of 2012, in the dance community and way beyond. “I’ve been surprised by the number of transcendent moments I, sober and in my mid-30s, have had in clubs in the last few years ,” Dan says. “There’s some magic in it still. The clichés about the collective consciousness of clubs seems to still hold water in some special cases. 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.”