Album Reviews, Culture, Dance / Electro — November 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

Caribou – Swim


Artist Name: Caribou
Title Name: Swim
Label: V2 Records
Reviewed by: Rory O’Maley

I know I keep things a bit floor-centric around here, and I know I’m well past the obsession boat on this one, but for anyone who hasn’t had a listen I think it’s time to take the plunge into Caribou‘s 2010 electronic/acoustic masterpiece, Swim.

Amongst his sea of aliases, projects and contributions, Dan Snaith’s most accessible and certainly most known identity, Caribou, has evolved. Beginning with Snaith’s “Manitoba” identity, Caribou grew quickly. Tracing back through records sees a remarkable fluid transition: with the artist sliding through genres and influences at an astounding rate. Start Breaking My Heart creates an offbeat soundscape which is distinctly Boards of Canada-esque, while just a year earlier, his Marino EP coursed through the speakers with an energetic and broad array of experimentation over 4 tracks.

2010’s Swim comes from simpler foundations. Caribou was performing frequently as a DJ at the time and Snaith created the tracks to add more originals that translated well on the dancefloor. Without a release in mind, the tracks grew naturally over time and were sought after among fans. Swim‘s release, when it finally claim, thrust Caribou firmly into the spotlight – and for good reason. Not everyone cares to look into the tracks that connect with them and I don’t mean to imply Caribou is a household name, but the spread of his appeal is monstrous. On a summer’s evening as “Odessa” and its cold, clanging sample rises through the mix, it’s amazing to see the recognition it is constantly met with. Haunting (I hate that term too…but you know it’s true), cold and wonderfully un-polished, “Odessa” will definitely be featuring in many top tracks of the decade lists.

But even though Swim runs with ‘Odessa’ from the get go, Caribous album offers much, much more. Literally, every song brings an entirely different approach to the electronic, acoustic, rough framework that guides the album, leading to a pile of incomparable tunes. ‘Bowls’ and ‘Sun’ join tightly structured beats with loftier samples and synths, while songs like “Lalibela” and “Kaili” centre around an emotive vocal to portray lament and excitement simultaneously.

Perhaps it’s my dancey nature, but for me “Leave House” is the clear album standout. Much like “Odessa”, the track focuses on simple melodies and lyrics with shifty syncopation to deliver an understated gem which builds and builds to a point of freneticism. For some reason I’m also heavily reminded of ‘Nights Out’ era Metronomy by this tune, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Swim is an experimental electronic masterpiece that develops to a truly complete experience. It’s not just a maybe, you need to go out and give this a listen if you haven’t already. Oh, and for bonus points have a listen to his phenomenal remix of “Virgo Four’s It’s A Crime”  – they just don’t make them like this anymore.


Caribou – Odessa

Caribou- Leave House


Caribou’s ‘Swim’ is available on iTunes.