Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
June 25, 2005
Amazon Disco:
The Milk of Human Kindness The Milk of Human Kindness
May 3, 2005
Domino
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Rock Music Reviews
Caribou
The Milk of Human Kindness


though you may not be able to detect it, Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), Scott Herren (Prefuse 73, Savath & Savalas), and Dan Snaith (Caribou) are pissed. the manner in which they expressed their anger, however, differed with alarming extremity. Hebden did so on Everything Ecstatic by summarily and loudly rejecting his titular role as Folktronica King, packing the album with layers of drums, drummers, and drum-like accessories; the last thing he wanted to be was Conor Oberst's electronic doppleganger. Herren did so by rejecting the title of glitch-hop purist, juxtaposing artists like Ghostface Killah and Beans with Aesop Rock and El-P. those who still doubt he's upset should listen to Surrounded by Silence's intro, where a voice abruptly exclaims, "if i said 'fuck the biters' does that sound like i want to talk about it? no, i've said everything to say about them."

last year Handsome Dick(head) Manitoba of the decrepit punk band The Dictators sued Dan Snaith for copyright infringement. the infringed object in question? Manitoba. yeah, like the province. though Canada didn't give two shits about the name being used, Dick wouldn't relent and threatened suit. Snaith, a self-effacing and soft-spoken doctoral student in Mathematics at Imperial College London, possessed neither the energy nor venom to play in that legal circus and thus changed his name to Caribou, a fittingly defenseless animal that simply wants to chew cud and walk around. i know, i know, he doesn't sound pissed off, but i think otherwise.

The Milk of Human Kindness takes his prior outstanding work, Up In Flames, and attaches an organic backbone, toning down the haze under which it was created. lead single 'Yeti' includes bells and almost extemporized drumming, bouncing around with speed and leaving no skin untouched. Snaith's voice is even-keeled but still maintains its dulcet honesty, seemingly relaxed and positive. follower 'Subotnick,' at only a little over a minute, possesses a 70's soul, albeit distorted somewhat, with its employment of keyboards and definitive horn outro. it leads into 'A Final Warning,' a neatly progressive 7-minute piece that sees Snaith at his most organic and kinetic. followers 'Lord Leopard' and 'Bees' are aberrant, the former built on a hip-hop drum beat and staccato organ while the latter pushing the horn samples and drums to the fore.

Snaith's modifications are even more apparent on 'Hello Hammerheads' and 'Brahminy Kite.' using only a simple bass drum tempo and looping guitar picks, Snaith puts himself in the center, something that now feels all too logical considering his roots in traditional IDM with Start Breaking My Heart. 'Brahminy Kite,' 'Drumheller,' and 'Pelican Narrows' find him composing newly reflective pieces that are elegant in construction and rival the work found on Four Tet's Rounds. the prevailing feature of The Milk of Human Kindness is just how often the author is actively involved in the music itself. before Snaith took advantage of electronic music's distal position relative to the artist, but this album feels as though he never once relinquished the reins. it may sound strange, but his anger seems to have turned inward such that his latest release is not just by Caribou, but simply is Caribou. he seems to have displayed his frustrations by displaying more of himself. like the animal, Snaith seems to have laid himself bare.

Release date: May 3, 2005
Label: Domino
Rating: 8.4 / 10

[RMR]