The sounds of his nom-de-tune, Caribou, though, are a far cry from the eccentric architecture of what’s typically known as ”math rock,” a proggy post-punk indulgence that sometimes borders on sheer wankery. No, Snaith’s music is somewhat an anomaly (how’s that for “math-y sounding?”) in the indie-rock world: something danceable that’s not imitative of new wave.
“It’s not mathematical the way people think,” maintains Snaith. “It’s not systematic, but all impulse. I am trying to create an emotional connection. [But] math is much more artistic than people imagine. Intuition, for example, has sometimes been used by mathematicians to arrive at great proofs.”
His musical influences aren’t what you might expect, either—everything from ’60s free jazz to ’80s hair-metal.On his new record, Swim, he has sounds of house music as well as prog-rock.
“I very consciously wanted it to be different from my last record (2008’s Andorra),” Snaith says. “I had done everything I could with that sound.” That album was definitely more in the “indie” side of the spectrum, with some folky tones interspersed. “I have wanted to do more with psychedelic pop,” he notes, “and I have wanted the sounds to come not from my influences, but to be my own record.”
Swim is very much his own record. Songs like the opener “Odessa” are expansive enough to include organic sounds, ethereal melodies and polyrhythmic finesse. “I guess a lot of these sounds are a crossover,” he admits. “It’s kind of a hybrid by accident. I’m quite happy inhabiting a spot in between two genres.”
It’s interesting to note that the two years since Andorra seem to be about the same length as the cycle between significant technological advances, like between the 3G and 4G iPhone—technologies dependent on advanced mathematics for their very existence. One can only wonder where this musical innovator will be two years from now. “Odessa” has been featured in the EA Sports soccer videogame FIFA 11, so he’s already capitalizing on new musical venues.
But Snaith never forgets the human venues where his music is performed. “I finish the record before I think about how it’s going to come across live,” he notes. “But it’s always important to me that it sounds spontaneous. There are things you can do now that we used to not be able to do, or were too cumbersome to do gracefully. Now the technology is improved.”
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