Caribou, 'Swim' (Merge)

8
Swim
Critical Mass
Label: Merge

by J Gabriel Boylan

Dan Snaith's adventurous music, first as Manitoba and now as Caribou, has ranged from serene, defiantly melodic IDM to backward-looking psychedelia and krautrock. Though Swim is less referential, the artist that does come to mind in these sprawling pieces is Arthur Russell, whose outsider disco and house featured warped cello and ghostly vocals. Similarly, disco and house are the templates here, and Swim builds drama with fluttered flutes, processed strings, skronking saxophone, or a wheezing horn meandering over a defiant, ominous bass. Snaith's favorite later-period instrument is his delicate, high-pitched, echoing voice, which melds perfectly with the flanged circumlocutions of "Hannibal" and the slashing strings on "Jamelia."

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