Friday, 2 January 2009

I Almost Forgot About Caribou

Welcome to 2009. As you may have already read, many lauded music publications have done their predictable end of 2008 best of lists. Pitchfork have written theirs rightfully putting Fleet Foxes debut as their number one pick. Many publications have followed suit.

I was going to write a long list of great live shows that I had managed to catch throughout the year, but then came the unfortunate realisation that I haven’t seen all that many artists. I managed to get to Glastonbury, but I often find that festival sets and festival crowds are not truly representative of the power that a live show can, or should, produce. You know what I mean?

Instead, I would like to focus on an artist who has provided me with much joy over the past 12 months which I had forgotten to point out in my previous ‘best of’ list that I wrote a few days back on this blog. And that artist is Daniel Snaith who goes by the alias ‘Caribou’. He used to be ‘Manitoba’ but had to change it due to avoid a potential legal wrangle with some aging American punk rocker from the ‘70s. Furthermore, Caribou provided me with the most impressive set (funnily enough, it was at Glastonbury. I believe that I just contradicted myself!).

Caribou released Andorra to much acclaim in 2007 and it is indeed a great album, with ‘She’s the One’ being my pick of the record. I've managed to check out his other work, “Up in Flames” and “The Milk of Human Kindness” that also contain some great little songs such as the DJ Shadow-esque ‘Lord Leopard’ to the indie cuteness of ‘Crayon’. Caribou uses a variety of cut and paste recording techniques (software like Acid Pro), but records all the instruments and noises himself.

The best thing about Caribou is definitely the live experience. I have seen Snaith and co twice now – once at the GOMA in Brisbane, Australia, and then again at the aforementioned Glastonbury 2008 festival. The setup is generally along the following lines. Dual drummers dominate the forecourt of the stage, Snaith himself switching between guitar, sampler, xylophone and drums (he is a an accomplished drummer). An extra guitarist and bassist mellow out behind the drum kits, providing their necessary parts, while Snaith and the other drummer face off in frequent drumming duals of titanic proportions. This really works well and reminds me of how a band would be set up in practise room.

Unfortunately, Caribou has wrapped up the Andorra tour and is working on new material; this means a long wait for seeing the band live again. In the meantime, for a very interesting look into the production of ‘Andorra’ check out the following BBC documentary courtesy of Youtube.

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