Caribou Vibration Ensemble is literally the Caribou big band: Dan Snaith gets a few of his many musical friends together to play enhanced and embellished versions of his tracks. On CVE Live 2011 the likes of James Holden and Four Tet get their hands on two tracks from Swim, plus an improvisation. Sounds as great as you’d imagine and it's all for a good cause. The only criticism is that there isn’t more!
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Dan Snaith’s got friends. Powerful, musical, numerous friends. These friends also have an arsenal of gear at their disposal, a feature that is most evident from the busy sound of this live record from a couple of sessions in 2011. Never has the word ‘synthesizer’ been quoted so much on a members list, but then, with masters such as Border Community boss James Holden and the omnipresent Keiran Hebden providing all sorts of trippy expensive electronics with controlled ferocity, it’s pretty welcome.
And fierce it is - try listening to this maximized version of ‘Sun’ without getting all riled up from the dense wall of cycling 4-to-the-floor rhythms and untamed audio machines. The same goes for the group improv, the 2nd track on the 1st side. Holden’s modular synth screams its raw death throes, making Brenders & Fisher’s sax jamming sound tame especially when trying to contend with that drum section exploding around them. While a great exercise in building intensity, this one seems built for a live environment, when the experience is multi-sensory and overpowering. Basically this is just jealousy for not having been there.
The reinventions of the two tracks from Swim are where the LP shines. ‘Bowls’ sounds like a ragamuffin college ensemble who are actually good, reimagined for a dancier stomp. It’s interesting hearing the amalgamation of Holden’s remix with the original, viewed through the magnifying glass of a large ensemble, each member taking the reins at different points keeping the performance in constant flux. And ‘Sun’. Yes, this is undoubtedly the ‘festival’ track, and will probably take everyone that buys this back to those free squalid times when powders were flying through veins and luxury burritos emptied pockets. Call and response vocals saying that one lyric take up most of the conventional first part of the track, before it all fixates on that one synth loop, building and building until you go a bit mad.
They’ve effectively reconfigured Snaith’s music enough to warrant this as a release, even if on record some of the magic is unavoidably lost. But for those that long for Caribou material and love big-tent groove moments, don’t give this one a miss.
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- CVE Live 2011 by Caribou Vibration Ensemble
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