By Alan Cho
Bands change their name to rebrand themselves, chasing their muse into new markets and the iPods of elusive demographs. Then, there are bands who get sued by Handsome Dick Manitoba for trademark infringement. Dan Snaith’s Manitoba became mired in the latter and, to avoid a lawsuit from the frontman for the Dictators, took on the new moniker of Caribou. The name change, though, hasn’t stopped Snaith from creating some of the most interesting electronica music in Canada today; especially with his latest album, The Milk of Human Kindness.
Snaith’s last album, Up in Flames, cemented his position as a critical darling in the electronica scene, The Milk of Human Kindness gives us Snaith at his most focused. While most recent electronica albums malinger in the musky basements of amateur laptop DJs or content to recycle urban funk riffs, Snaith’s new album is a celebration of rural Canada–an area long ignored by most except Canadian Lit writers forced onto English classes. It makes for an unusually expansive album, blue prairie skies and coniferous forests bursts from the myriad of samples Snaith created himself. Not content in just playing every instrument on the album’s 11 tracks, Snaith also lends his voice. Subdued and a whiskey shot past timid, his voice only accents the vastness in the music.
At first listen, The Milk of Human Kindness may seem too minimalist, too ethereal to really grasp. But auscultate to the chug of ghost trains barreling by grain elevators evoked in “A Final Warning” or the winding synths through the hoodoos of “Drumheller” and Snaith reveals the power within a part of Canada long ignored.