Caribou – ‘Andorra’ (City Slang 2007)

Caribou – ‘Andorra’

City Slang 2007

2006 was the year that broke minimal. We’re not just talking minimal house here, but an overall push toward subtler and simpler sounds. From the Knife’s eerie ‘Silent Shout’ album, to the 70bpm invasion of dubstep, and on to the Gossip’s stripped-down pop punk – if last year had a strapline it would have definitely been ‘less is more’.

Enter 2007 and it seems this rule’s been turned on its head – keeping things minimum complex simply will not do. Already we’ve had Of Montreal’s buoyant break-up/breakdown epic ‘Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?’, the noise/folk/psych/pop of Animal Collective’s ‘Strawberry Jam’, Marnie Stern’s Olympic guitar-widdle blowout ‘In Advance Of The Broken Arm’, and Battles’ swashbuckling return to post-rock on ‘Mirrored’. And now ‘Andorra’ – an album so dense and lush that even David Bellamy would have trouble finding his way around its undergrowth.

Some may already be familiar with Caribou, aka Canadian-born Dan Snaith who, in the great IDM crash of the early noughties, produced some fairly pleasant but ultimately forgettable folktronica under the guise of Manitoba. A lawsuit in 2004, courtesy of Dictators frontman Handsome Dick Manitoba, forced Dan to change his moniker to Caribou. Never one to get brought down by an ageing punk with a chip on his shoulder (not to mention dollar signs in his eyes), Dan moved to London to continue searching for that perfect mid-point between home-listening electronica, ‘90s indie and ‘60s psychedelia.

‘Andorra’ is essentially an electronic album, mostly made with laptops, samples, loops etc. But this is immaterial, and while it isn’t always obvious how much of Caribou’s sound is down to meticulous sequencing or live instrumentation courtesy of his part-time touring band, this is one of the few examples where mixing synthetic production with so-called “proper” music actually works. It never feels as though either element is jostling for space, as so often happens when artists try to heroically marry the traditionally incompatible worlds of rock and techno.

Snaith is one of the few producers who understands that electronic music is by default punchy, clear-cut, polished and uniform while rock is organic, unwieldly, and loose. So many have tried to play rock instruments over a synthetic beat and failed to pull it off. This is why for the majority of tracks Dan decides to go for a jangly, sixties drum style, using his electro-wizardry to manipulate the rest of the sounds around it. The term ‘psychedelic’ is appropriate, with great swathes of Strawberry Fields flute, hippy-dippy guitar and burbling synths bursting in and out of the mix, kaleidoscope-style.

2006 can keep its ketamine crackles, its back-to-basics guitar dirges, and its po-faced new dance styles – 2007 is keeping it maximal, to the max.

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1 Comment

  1. […] Caribou – ‘Andorra’ (City Slang 2007)‘Andorra’ is essentially an electronic album, mostly made with laptops, samples, loops etc. But this is immaterial, and while it isn’t always obvious how much of Caribou’s sound is down to meticulous sequencing or live instrumentation … […]


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