While touring the planet as an opening act for Radiohead this year, the industrious Dan Snaith (a.k.a. Caribou) has also been DJing in clubs, combining vintage soul, disco, and world-music samples with his trademark flourishes of minimal techno. On Jiaolong—the first full-length album he’s released under his dance-music alias, Daphni—Snaith continues on that sonic collision-course, and the results are exhilarating.
Many of these tracks were recorded in a matter of hours, intended for use in a DJ set later the same night. Consequently, the end product is less ornate and layered than Caribou’s stellar 2010 album, Swim, but there’s still a surfeit of surprising, quirky hooks that will mesmerize listeners desperate for EDM that doesn’t sound like it rolled off a conveyor belt in Ibiza—or hell.
The previously released opening track, “Yes, I Know,” ingeniously marries a scorching sample of rock-funk legend Buddy Miles’s 1971 song, “The Segment” to an equally hypnotic, squelching synth-riff. Snaith’s remix of “Ne Noya”—the sole hit by Togo’s Cos-Ber-Zam —is sublime, as is the similarly African-flavoured “Jiao.”
This is the most compelling musical side project of the year, further evidence that the PhD-wielding Snaith is a genius in more ways than one. Now can we please have the follow-up to Swim?
Playlist picks: “Yes, I Know,” “Ye Ye,” “Pairs”