There once was a moniker named Manitoba, and behind the mask was Dan Snaith — Ontarian musicmaster, purveyor of a style bred in isolation and unpredictable as such, a blender of styles as diverse as Kraut-rock, dance, ‘90s indie, techno, and the twee jangle of certain classic rock maestros. After two records and a bizarre lawsuit over his nom de plume, Snaith re-emerged as Caribou. He’s up to the same old business — a strange mix of progress and homage — and along with two records, The Milk of Human Kindness and 2007’s Andorra, Snaith has also re-released his records previously available as Manitoba (Start Breaking My Heart and the enigmatic Up In Flames). Each of these records boasts its own vision, an installment of sorts in Snaith’s catalog of musical mania. The progress has seen Snaith grow from recording electronic music in his bedroom to a highly ecstatic, organic style that transcends genre altogether.
All pleasantly convoluted with glitches, distortion, and musical swirls, Snaith is a top notch creator of what is, hands down, some of the most glorious, interesting music available. As a result, Pitchfork was prompted to call Andorra a “sunshine daydream,” which is about the closest you can get to describing Caribou without completely over-analyzing every one of the multitude of aspects to this music. Fans of Four Tet, Dan Deacon, Super Furry Animals, and/or the warm wind of sunny days will relish in Caribou’s music, while those who find a strongly updated version of ‘60s California curious will be just as pleasantly surprised. Hell, it’s worth going just to see how they pull this off live—though I can tell you it involves two drum kits, at least two guitars, many keyboards, a melodica, and something called an “omnipresent flutophone.” That’s enough to win my heart.
Also on the bill are Fuck Buttons, an English duo whose self-dubbed “rainbow rock” is an experimental onslaught of synth dreamscapes populated by washes of distortion, organ swells, and influence from both the New Wave and Industrial sides of the 1980s. The sound is unpredictable, part-time beautiful and part-time brash, but typically all for the better.
Caribou and Fuck Buttons perform tonight at the Illini Union Courtyard Café, 1401 W. Green Street, Urbana. Showtime is 8 p.m. and you must be 18 or have a UIUC student ID to enter.