Back before Dan Snaith was recording as Daphni, or even Caribou, he made two full length albums under the name Manitoba (he would later forfeit said moniker after being threatened with a lawsuit by punk rocker Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba). For a suburban kid weaned on the likes of Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim, the second of these albums, 2003’s Up in Flames, came as something of a revelation to me. Was it “dream pop” or “folktronica” or “neo-psychedelia”? Whatever the critics chose to call it, it was clear that this was someone working in finer strokes than I was accustomed to. It was electronic but it sounded amazingly organic. There seemed to be some deeper influences at play.
What a joy, then, all these years later, to hear Snaith weave some of his more dance-oriented influences together in a five-hour-long DJ set under his Daphni guise. When I arrived at Metropolis at 10pm, the bottom level was filling up nicely. I had heard a rumour that the DJ booth would be set up, Boiler Room-style, in the middle of the dance floor, but that was not to be the case. Instead, Snaith was poised center-stage, looking out over the slowly swelling crowd from behind his trademark wire rims, the words “CHOOSE LOVE” printed on his T-shirt as a gentle exhortation to us all.
Over the course of the night we were treated to a variety of contemporary house, techno and UK Bass, along with a good helping of classic Chicago sounds and African rhythms. Newer tracks like Roy Of The Ravers’ “Emotonium” and the not-so-new “Hyph Mngo” by Joy Orbison rubbed up alongside tried-and-true numbers like Chez Damier’s “Can You Feel It” and the ever-crowd-pleasing “Percolator” by Green Velvet. Poppier moments came in the form of tracks like Junior Boys’ “Like A Child”, and then, of course, there were the funk and disco edits.
Working as Daphni, Snaith has shown himself to be a true master of the scalpel. This was amply demonstrated in his 2012 album Jiaolong and, just recently, his powerful Fabriclive mix. One of these brand new edits, a stripped down version of “You Can Be A Star” by the Luther Davis Group, was met with loud cheers of appreciation, as was a joyously repetitive reconfiguration of “Que Tal America” by Two Man Sound. Other disco delights included Theo Parrish’s “JB’s Edit” and Joe Claussell’s extension of “Come Into My World” by Michael Wycoff.
Photo credit: Bruno Destombes
All in all, it was about as deft a DJ set as I’ve heard in the last year or so. If the party never quite seemed to reach the point of take off, I suspect this had more to do with the venue and less to do with Snaith’s ability to connect with a dance floor. One couldn’t help but feel that there would have been more dancing and less stage-gazing had Snaith, in fact, been set up in the middle of the room as rumour had suggested, or if the night had been held in a smaller space such as the SAT. Still, despite the occasional lack of energy in a venue perhaps better-suited to rock shows than raves, this dancer did not walk away disappointed.