You’ll usually find Dan Snaith behind the wheel of Caribou, a surprising crossover hit that has caught the fancies of both the Pitchforkians and the DJ folks. Whether touring with his live band (they supported Radiohead last month) or performing B2B sets with Jamie xx and Four Tet, Snaith certainly keeps busy, allowing his constantly percolating sound to develop in the public eye. Snaith’s latest side-project is a direct response to the “EDM barfsplosion” that has occurred in North America over the past few years. It’s not too difficult to guess who the Canadian (who previously recorded as Manitoba) is aiming his sites at. Snaith’s weapon of choice: analogue house music. While Daphni is aimed at “corporate ravesters”, that’s where the rhetoric stops and Snaith manages to avoid nostalgia-based analogue revivalism and similar retrograde pitfalls.
As Daphni, Snaith has released several edits packages and a split EP with Four Tet, but Jiaolong is the real magnum opus, filled with a sound deeply indebted to Simian Mobile Disco’s Attack Decay Sustain Release as much as it is to the omnipresent Four Tet’s Rounds. Jiaolong’s use of analogue drum machines and synthesizers allow for brief moments of fallibility, an inherently human trait rarely found in the computer music realm. “Ye Ye”, released in 2011, is the clearest dancefloor smasher of the album, what with its ravey (but not corporate ravey of course) synth washes and hypnotic stab patterns.
Album opener “Yes I Know” is centered around an ubiquitous Buddy Miles sample, while a warped bassline subverts the euphoric vocals and pushes the track into ever-weirder territory. “Pairs” is driven by an accelerating conga drum pattern and repetitive, beefy synths. The synths appear to be the focal point of the track, but the congas come to the forefront around the 3:30 mark for a brief period of percussion-based bliss.
From the onset, Jiaolong is distinctly analogue, but manages to retain a protean attitude, allowing for a malleable sound that should bring a smile to even the most jaded dance fans and maybe even draw in some of those corporate ravesters. Snaith is no revenant from an era of dance music purity, he just wants to find/provide a few ”transcendent moments” and Jiaolong certainly succeeds at that. Stream Jiaolong below and head here to buy the album.