Daphni – Cherry
Ardent followers of Dan Snaith, AKA Caribou, will recognise the enigmatic Daphni as the producer’s more effervescent and playful side, usually brought to life behind the DJ booth. Outside of the constraints of Caribou and himself, Daphni has arguably been responsible for some of Snaith’s most outright fun and club driven work to date, from balearic funk bootlegs of Thriller to the scorching disco of last year’s Sizzling EP. This is the alias under which Snaith lets his freak flag fly, merging housey disco beats with off-kilter analog synths and whimsical left-field samples. Most of it is in search of little more than crafting absolute bangers and bops. Daphni exists as the life of the party, for the life of the party.
Cherry, Snaith’s latest album as Daphni, deals solely in the currency of euphoria. The urgent four on the floor pulse and snipped soul sample on Arrow opens with little warning, making the start of Cherry not unlike walking into a rave mid-song. Things start kicking from Crimson, a short interlude of cascading, overlapping, and sometimes dissonant arpeggios which continues to swell to the point of boiling over. It bubbles into the singular arpeggio of Arp Blocks, another interlude that serves as the passage into Cherry’s most propulsive section. The gummy Mania bounces with rubbery synths, arpeggios rising like champagne bubbles, coming in waves to lift Mania to increasing levels of bliss. Then Snaith throws disco on a treadmill going over 20kph and calls it Take Two. Mona is beguiling by way of its sheer strangeness, its distorted stabs dominating pretty much everything as it bewitches you into head nodding party mode.
In fact, the most satisfying moments on Cherry are its strangest. These come when Snaith fully lets his guard down enough to embrace the humour of an alias like Daphni. His synths often feel oddly opposed to the beat, ever so slightly skewed as they are on the album’s title track. They’re masterfully skew, if such a thing exists, rendering you captivated rather than confused. There’s a campiness to something like Falling, which sees Snaith present nothing but a looped and filtered sample of Surface’s Falling In Love for one minute straight. It speaks toward the sort of irreverent party girl irony that Snaith executes alarmingly well on Cherry. On Cloudy, keen listeners will identify a sample of Caribou’s moody Sunny’s Time, here transposed into a driving piano riff for a smooth-as-butter house cut. Snaith openly jeers at himself, Cloudy, of course, being far sunnier than any part of Sunny’s Time. He throws left-field sounds and tricks everywhere with reckless abandon. At the apex of Arrow, a squelching pattern rises then suddenly fades. Karplus sounds like listening to a Glitterbox set through a syphon gun. These touches of louche absurdity throughout make Cherry a thoroughly compelling, or at least entertaining, listen.
Daphni may rely a lot on loops to get the point across, but Snaith makes a good argument for why anyone even questions this approach. This is dance music, designed as patterns of repetition that hypnotise your body into submission to the dancefloor, to surrender to pleasure in excess. Daphni is a project that understands both the silliness and seriousness of this fact, and when he fully embraces both of these sides, Snaith really is something to behold. Try not to take Cherry too seriously, or you’ll be missing the point (and the party).
Watch the music video for Mania from Cherry below.
Follow Caribou / Daphni