Album Review: Daphni – Jiaolong




Under the moniker Caribou, Dan Snaith produces carefully constructed miniature houses of electronic music, impeccably designed tiny rooms full of the emotive power that would imbue a full-sized version. When releasing music under the name Daphni, on the other hand, it would seem that he’s more interested in pushing the furniture towards the walls, knocking down whatever he needs to in order to make room for a dance floor.

On Jiaolong, Snaith immediately announces his unpretentious intentions, introducing the boom-bap rhythms and wonky, simplistic synth lines that waggle repeatedly throughout “Yes I Know”. The introduction of a short horn stab, funky organ, and a soul vocal sample completes the swanky house vibe, and Snaith proceeds to tweak the phasers and flanges for the song’s four and a half droning minutes, drifting in and out of focus.

Naturally, repeating this progression of establishing a groove and blithely fiddling has mixed results, occasionally producing a visceral, undeniable hip-shaking moment, and at other times looping ad nauseam. The tooth-drilling synths and simple African rhythm of “Pairs” mesmerize for a while, but drift into the ether without hitting any climactic peak.

The jags of dubby synth, tom rolls, and ecstatic squiggles on “Springs” provide a chaotic counterpoint to the patterns, offering a brief glimpse of the eccentricities of Caribou, though certainly some freeform, untamed version. It would seem that Daphni offers Snaith the opportunity to expand another part of his brain, but in totally brushing aside the complexities of Caribou in order to make dance music, he loses sight of the more complex moments in the dance music he’s making.

Essential Tracks: “Yes I Know”, “Springs”