- On 2012's Jiaolong, Dan Snaith invited us to hear dance music with fresh ears. The debut album under his Daphni alias seemed to celebrate the pure mechanics of club music: the friction between samples and synthesis, the push-and-pull of a good groove, the brainless joy of repetition. At first, the album's follow-up, a Fabriclive mix made of Snaith's own productions and edits, hints at similar goals. Opener "Face To Face" is a four-minute duet for disco drums and twangy stepladder bassline: a simple idea (you could say overdone), but in Snaith's hands it brims with fresh energy. Half a decade on, though, the artist better known as Caribou is out of his DJing honeymoon phase. Across 27 tracks and 73 minutes, Fabriclive 93 paints a more complicated picture.
There are hints of the old Daphni sound. A couple of flamboyant disco moments, including the hyperactive "Vs" and Snaith's edit of Luther Davis Group's "You Can Be A Star," are mix highlights. But they occupy a broader spectrum of styles and ideas, encompassing the spiky IDM of Jamire Williams' "FUTURISM," some surprisingly workmanlike house bangers ("406.42 PPM") and frequent, florid bursts of heartstring-tugging melody.
This is a lot to stitch together, and Snaith struggles to find a starting point. The mix's early momentum is tentatively built and then undermined, first by the wilting synth breakdowns in "Xing Tian," then an abrupt key shift into the gated chord flutters of "Carry On." This key-change jolt repeats right afterwards into "Poly," and from there the groove falls into a gorgeous psychedelic puddle. 15 minutes into the CD, Snaith starts again from scratch.
He gets away with moments like this thanks to a direct but deft mixing style. He's not afraid of simple crossfades, abrupt cuts, or the old transition-via-reverb trick (into "Always There"). According to Snaith, some tracks were made-to-measure in the process of assembling the mix, which might explain how snugly they fit together. His approach starts to pay off with the transition from the weepy "Medellin" into "Hey Drum," which is about as banging as the name might lead you to hope. Even that track's breakdowns—massive, saccharine buildups of chord stabs and 2010 post-dubstep diva coos—crank up the energy. From there the mix feels more fluent, unfolding in one long, well-constructed sentence.
Punctuation comes from those heartstring-tugging melodies, as in "Tin," which gives way to two gorgeous breakdown moments, "Moshi" and "Strange Bird." Snaith ends with high emotion, too. "Fly Away"'s electric piano chord stabs build to not one but two fake-out climaxes. The wave of big-room melodrama breaks onto "Life's What You Make It," a balladic encore with a hint of psychedelic swirl. Years into his Daphni project, Snaith can still make familiar dance music sound fun all over again.
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