Caribou, Corsica Studios, London
Friday 23 April 2010
Brad Weber, one of the two drummers anchoring the live performances of Caribou, the long-time moniker of Dan Snaith, all-round clever clogs and sonic wizard, is a hypnotic performer. For the duration of this hour-long show in south London, Weber is plunked at the front of the stage, pushing the band's two guitarists to the back. He fronts the evening alongside Snaith, who flits between microkorg and drumkit, and you can see why – it's hard to keep your eyes off what he's doing. It is he, and not Snaith, who conducts proceedings, holding his arm aloft or using his entire body as a metronome. You get the feeling he's really pushing it, producing a more physical, visceral, tribal sound than the laid-back, psychedelic electronica of Caribou's recorded work.
The gig marks the release of Snaith's fifth album, Swim, the third under the name of his current outfit, and if it sounds like southwest London's Four Tet, aka Kieran Hebden, that's no accident. Hebden, along with Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, had input into the record (and tonight, he's also on DJ duty).
After an energetic warm up from Gold Panda, the night's highlights include "Odessa", Swim's first and best-known track, and "Sun". While there's not enough room to dance, it's easy to marvel at Snaith's versatility, if not his vocals (few escape undistorted). The record is full of techno-inspired audio trickery that keeps your interest alive (Snaith said he "got excited by the idea of making dance music that's liquid in the way it flows back and forth, the sounds slosh around in pitch, timbre, pan... Dance music that sounds like it's made out of water..."). The results, through headphones, are sublime. Tonight, though, two complaints.
The arrangement of the instruments occasionally mean that the drums vibrate really loudly when they aren't being played, which can be annoying, perhaps more so for the band.
Additionally, while Corsica Studios can be fun for club nights, selling it out for a showcase seems like a monumentally bad idea. Unless you had the chutzpah to barge your way to the front, the exploits of Weber, Snaith et al were not visible to a large proportion of the people there. It's a shame that so many people couldn't see the look on their faces; more often than not their drumming fell into sublime synchronisation that toyed with the audience before segueing into more than one phenomenal, surprising break.
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