caribou swim remixes
  • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2010

  • Posted by: Dan Siegler

Caribou's Swim, released earlier this year, was a modest and muted affair. It contained the brilliant, brainiac funk of "Odessa," and a slew of dance mood pieces that promised more than they delivered. The controlled iciness that permeated the record was a big change from the warm, early British pop influences of the previous Caribou outing, 2007's Andorra. Despite being an unlikely candidate for an album's worth of variations, Swim Remixes turns out to be a sprawling, stylistically diverse goodie bag, that far surpasses the original.

To his credit, composer/mathmetician/musician Daniel Snaith seems to have given his remixers far more latitude than he would ever conceive of giving himself. At close to 90 minutes, more than twice the length of the original record, there's a lot of bang for your buck. Although there are multiple versions of most of the songs, the interpretations are so different you won't realize that they're inspired by the same source material. The best stuff here strays the farthest afield. Perhaps the underdeveloped nature of much of Snaith's original Swim material, left enough space for the DJ's and composers he employed to fill in the blanks. Or maybe there's more there than initially met the ear. In any event, it's clear that Snaith's compositions have been influential and inspiring to his fellow musicians, a distinction Im sure means more to him than critical acclaim.

There are three versions of "Odessa." The Junior Boys mix sticks a bit too close to the prototype, keeping an abbreviated sample of the central bird-squawk riff and leaving much of Snaith's wispy vocal intact, bringing it revealingly up front, losing the atmospheric reverb. David Wrench's Drumappella take is pure percussion that somehow manages to convey traces of the Snaith edition without any melodic instruments. The Nite Jewel remix is one of the album's highlights that resolves dissonance with harmonies, warm analog synth, electric piano and hand percussion.

There are two versions each of "Jamelia," "Kaili," "Leave House," "Sun" and "Bowls." Of these, both versions of "Sun" are real standouts, the glitchy, rhythm-challenged Patten remix and the ominous, clubby Altrice's 'Only What You Gave Me' remix. It's hard to imagine the sun peeking out from behind the dark clouds conjured here.

Other highlights include the Holden remix of "Bowls," which contains intriguing, shuffling household noises and detuned synth surprises and a reworking of "Jamelia" by DJ Koze's Alarm Clock that exposes the vulnerability of Snaith's lyric, "If I cant be a man tell me what I am/Tell me what I'm here for?"

There are a couple of clunkers, including Fuck Buttons surprisingly bland take on "Kaili," but the quality of the work here remains consistent throughout.

You've got to hand it to Daniel Snaith for opening up his process to this degree. Despite the occasional bedroom masterpiece, for the most part, music is best when you let other people get their hands dirty with it. Perhaps some of that grime will rub off on the next Caribou album.

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MP3: "Sun (Altrice's Only What You Gave Me Remix)"
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