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It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Caribou man Dan Snaith’s new dance project album and Four Tet’s latest collection Pink. Both men have DJed together at Plastic People in London and at festivals like Electric Picnic. They’ve released a split of tracks together. Both have moved their productions from intricate heady music into more hedonistic dance music territory more suited to dancefloors.
Similarly, While Pink was a collection of 12″s previously released so too is Snaith’s Jiaolong, with some of these tracks featuring on white label over the last year. While Four Tet’s Pink was rooted in gentle sparse house vibes, it ultimately felt like territory Hebden wanted to explore and get out of his system before he goes back to his melodic percussive side.
The exploratory impetus is a big part of Snaith’s output on Jiaolong but overall, it feels like a more natural fit. Last year’s three-track Daphni release featured an edit of a Cos Ber Zam’s song of the same name from the Afro Beat Airways (Ghana & Togo 1972-1979) compilation along with the sample-funk sine wave of ‘Yes, I Know’ and the acid psychedelia of ‘Jiao’ while ‘Ye Ye’ featured on the Four Tet split.
Five other new songs make up the nine-track release and while ‘Ye Ye’ is probably the album’s biggest and sharpest track, there’s enough spinning dancefloor meat for Jiaolong to come across as substantial. Take ‘Light’, a track I remember Snaith dropping in his DJ set at Electric Picnic, a headmelting flute loop, squelches and drum machine beats – it’s a bonkers mechanical dance track.
The tracks aren’t a million miles away from Caribou’s latest album. ‘Ahora’ for example, could be an outtake of those sessions but Daphni marks a greater separation. If Caribou is more suited to fields, tundras and mountains, Daphni is an urban city beast. Set free from Snaith’s psychedelic leanings and with a mode of working that relied on single-day track sessions, there’s a bare aspect to the rhythms that cut its own distinctive shadow. That is no doubt helped by Snaith’s home-built modular synth used throughout, which creates an environment of one-track takes producing these rough and playful cuts for the club.