Dan Snaith was bitten by the dance-music bug years ago; one of his very first jobs in music was organizing DJ nights at his alma mater, the University of Toronto. But the producer could have easily forged a lifelong career outside of clubland via his work as Caribou, making and playing his gently unfolding, vaguely psychedelic, often pastoral version of idiosyncratic near-pop. Of course, he never totally abandoned up the clubbing thing—case in point: 2003’s “If Assholes Could Fly, This Place Would Be an Airport” (released under as Manitoba, his pre-Caribou moniker). But a combination of circumstances (befriending Four Tet, hanging out at fabric, producing a bunch of dance-orientd numbers that didn’t feel quite right as Caribou tracks, etc.) forced his hand. The joys of the dance floor—the synergy between the DJ and the dance floor, the electricity, the spine-tingling jolt of musical experiences that are impossible to find anywhere else—fully beckoned to Snaith, and in the early days of this decade, Daphni was born.
Following a diverse, highly regarded string of productions and edits, largely falling within the house and techno categories but frequently bursting out of those constraints, Snaith, under the Daphni guise, has now put together the latest installment in the fabriclive series. He’s stated that he often makes Daphni tracks in order to have fresh music to play in his DJ sets, but on fabriclive 93, he takes that methodology to the extreme. The set is made up of 23 all-new Daphni material and four new edits, but while some of the mix’s cuts were tunes he’d been working on for a while, others were cobbled together wholly on the fly as he spliced the mix together. The question whatever the technique,of course, is: is it any good? And while individual cuts might not quite reach the grinding grandeur of a Daphni track like “Ye Ye” or his hypnotic-yet-jacking version of Virgo Four’s “It’s a Crime,” the answer is: Yes, fabriclive 93 is good, very good.
These tracks are functional in the best sense—this is music that’s meant to be danced to, after all—but Snaith still lays down a full spectrum of sounds. fabriclive 93 veers from thrift-shop disco to beat-tension jazz, from Detroit-flavored techno-pop to dream-piano lullabies, from intimate reflections to hedonistic fist-pumps—with many of its tracks feeling achingly familiar, as if Snaith is reaching for some universal dance-music mythos.
That feeling of shared euphoric experience is present from the start. Opening cut “Face to Face” is a primitive, no-wavy basement-boogie delight that sounds as if it could have come out of an NYC basement club circa 1980; its stripped-down drums, in-the-red bass, and perky vocal chorus segue nicely into the rapid-fire tom-toms and in-your-face organ bursts of “Xing Tian,” a track that feels both jarring and natural. The addictive, melancholy chords of “So It Seems,” the rapid-fire arpeggios of the vaguely EBM-ish “Hey Drum,” the jazzy abstractions, somehow both delicate and delicious of “Nocturne”—these are tunes that see Snaith teasing out the best bits of club-music history while discarding the rest. Other highlights include the percolating, hollowed-out percussion and intricately plucked strings of "Ten Thousand," the gossamer swirls of "Listen Up," and the synapse-tingling chords of "Fly Away."
There’s an occasionally helter-skelter quality to some of fabriclive 93's transitions. There’s an undeniable glee to the Daphni’s edit of the Luther Davis Group disco rarity “You Can Be a Star,” for instance, but it feels a bit out of place sandwiched in between “Hey Drum” and the acidic jack of “Try.” Likewise, the soothing, dreamy “So It Seems” sidles awkwardly into the frenetic, Eastern-tinged “Screaming Man Baby.” But what some people might consider slight imperfections—basically, the human element made manifest—are a big factor in what makes a mix like this work. And besides, when a song like the joyous piano-houser “Fly Away” or the glorious, horn–infused “vs” cue up, who cares about transitions? fabriclive 93 might not be flawless—but it sure is fun.
Daphni will be performing at this year's MUTEK Montreal alongside Lotic, Zip, Beatrice Dillon, Africaine 808, Fis, Robert Henke, Kuniyuki Takahashi, Aurora Halal, and more. More information and tickets can be found here.
01. Daphni "Face To Face"
02. Daphni "Xing Tian"
03. Daphni "Carry On"
04. Jamire Williams "FUTURISM" (Daphni Edit)
05. Daphni "Poly"
06. Daphni "Ten Thousand"
07. Daphni "Medellin"
08. Daphni -"Hey Drum"
09. Luther Davis Group "You Can Be A Star" (Daphni Edit)
10. Daphni "Try"
11. Daphni "Vikram"
12. Pheeroan Ak Laff "3 In 1" (Daphni Edit)
13. Daphni "Listen Up"
14. Daphni "Tin"
15. Daphni "Moshi"
16. Daphni "Strange Bird"
17. Container "Dissolve" (Daphni Edit)
18. Daphni "Joli Mai"
19. Daphni "Nocturne"
20. Daphni "So It Seems"
21. Daphni "Screaming Man Baby"
22. Daphni "Vs"
23. Daphni "The Truth"
24. Daphni "406.42 PPM"
25. Daphni "Always There"
26. Daphni "Fly Away"
27. Daphni "Life's What You Make It"
Fabriclive 93 is scheduled for July 21 release, with "Face To Face" streamable in full below.