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Caribou – Swim

Merge Records, 4/20/10

Liquid motions between thunderstorm systems and humid home openers, the weather’s been nice lately. Shall we take a dip? Swim, the latest album by Canada’s Dan Snaith, also known as Caribou, is like early summer sessions that turn the pool cloudy. Party invites apparently included “a quartet of Toronto free-jazz horn players and Born Ruffians' Luke Lalonde”, among others. Out now on Merge Records, Caribou takes dance and dunks it in water.

Never releasing the mathematical influence of his background, Snaith holds patterns under until they start to panic and twitch. The vocals throughout all songs contribute like ghosts escaping from bodies. Songs like “Hannibal” are driven by muted soft synths and swampy bass tones, like when a car drives off a pier and hits the water in slow motion.

A greenhorn to the suckle of swimming, an escape for Snaith when not working on music, confesses that underwater ideas are obviously the premise of the entire album. His obvious experimentations with elements, off patterns, and tonal discrepancies, surround sound chaotically perfect. Even the shortest song on the album, “Lalibela”, is full of texture and emotion, build up and dramatic falling, and a 4-on-the-floor that nods to sounds of Cassius circa 1997.

“Sun” is the last song and arguably the guilty pleasure of the entire album. IDM stimulates intellectual two-step and light-hearted grooves give goose bumps. But there is something about the shuffle, dramatically lifting and falling with the busted horns stampeding through arctic marshlands in the background, that feels like the shower after a win.

With each song satisfying on its own accord, my only criticism in Swim is its length. But like all liquid entities, Caribou’s latest is unrelenting. You will find joy in repetition, driving self-motivation, and you will get wet.