Last Tuesday, I was treated to a feast of musical smarties – no – skittles – the sour ones – much better. And so we have Caribou – purveyors of the finest most delectable beats and shoegazey walls of spangly sound. Yes, this is psychedelic folktronica at its best – why? Probably because they’ve been doing it longer than most of the others. Along with the band Fridge, they pretty much set the whole thing in motion late nineties / early noughties.
Caribou (previously called Manitoba) is essentially main man Dan Snaith and a collection of musicians he’s got together with over the years. Though to start with it was just him and a lot of his toys – I am imagining a big room full of instruments from all over the planet – A big kid’s ball pool of colourful sounding things to twang, bang and whatever else!
Dan’s initial dabblings came in the shape of “Start Breaking My Heart” back in 2001 on Leaf records. I fell in love with his music then and still am now. And then, 2 years later, his second album surfaced – “Up In Flames”. At this time he was still under the name of Manitoba. Anyway, this album marked the start of his more retro 60s psychedelia influenced sound. Without losing the roots of his electronic sound completely, he branches off into new territories with an even bigger herb-rack of instruments and sounds. Guitars, flutes, and of coarse, drums. But these are real drums – acoustic drums. Having played second fiddle to the programmed digital beats of the first album – the glorious natural drum sounds are now right up front – and having seen him play them live, he’s a damn fine drummer. Not only that, he takes his first steps into opening up his throat-box and playing with his voice!
The next 2 albums, now under the name of Caribou (taken from the name of the curious Canadian moose-type creature), are basically going further in that direction – developing the sound and getting better all the time. His latest offering – “Andorra” – now fully laden with vocals and being more traditionally structured as songs will probably be his most commercially successful album to date. It’s a joy to listen to.
Having played about with such a wide variety of instruments over the years, he’s obviously become a pretty versatile musician but can’t do everything himself at a live performance. To see Caribou live is to immerse yourself in the sounds of Dan Snaith’s long crafted art and energy and his band help him do exactly that. Backed up with a guitarist, bassist and second drummer (he plays himself too) it’s like being showered in, well, yes sour skittles! or those fizzy cola bottles – except they’re not just the boring old cola brown – oh no – you are treated to waves of rainbow-coloured barrages of noise. Topped off with a backdrop of wacky spiraling op-art visuals and multi-coloured lights, the whole thing works a treat – and translates over perfectly live.