Daphni, "Jiaolong" (Merge)
Dan Snaith, who has released albums under the stage names Caribou and Manitoba, likes to tinker with musical projects. Under his latest performance moniker, Daphni, the musician delivers an ambiguous album of electronica that practically dares you to make sense of it.
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Perhaps sense isn't the goal, however.
At its base, "Jiaolong" is a dance-paced collection of repetitious grooves interspersed with varied spurts of sound that weigh in more as experiment than accomplishment. Things start off in funky fashion with "Yes, I Know." Snaith, as Daphni the producer, weaves an R&B vocal refrain in between a deep wobble of bass and some hand claps. Things stay heavy and rhythmic through "Cos-Ber-Zam Ne Noya (Daphni Mix)" and "Ye Ye."
But the more Daphni tinkers, the more it sounds like he's in a basement toying with VST plug-ins while listening to a Richie Hawtin disc. "Pairs" has a congo-fueled beat, but the slapdash application of found sounds layered over the top goes on far too long, with little emotional payoff.
In the end, "Jiaolong" doesn't resonate as a finished product. Rather, it feels like a personal work in progress that Snaith decided to share.
Check this out: "Long" has bass, fuzz and even an occasional something that sounds like spaceship shots from the old-school video game "Galaxian." It's one of the more dramatic songs on the album, and perhaps the best.