Tour CD 2005
he Milk of Human Kindness made me forget what glorious noise Dan Snaith creates. Though a better record than its predecessor, 2003’s Up in Flames, Milk was razor-fine by comparison, pared down to stark grooves and post-modern psychedelic field songs. When I saw him live recently, surrounded by the humid bar-foul of Minneapolis’ 400 Bar, his rhythmic tantrums reminded me of just how noisy and frantic the man behind Caribou/Manitoba could get. He made greasy candlelight out of cacophony. Two drum sets and a guitar, with Snaith leaping from behind the set to pick up an acoustic guitar and join in the tangle and fray, he left you wondering just where the fuck you parked your car.
Following the successes of Milk, Snaith offers us this tour-only CD, containing six outtakes from the Milk sessions and a thirty-six minute DJ mix. In many ways, these tracks show the limitations of Snaith’s seemingly endless creative energies by sharing some of the excesses of Up in Flames. There were moments on that record when Snaith was perhaps more dizzy from his own compositions, and it led to a blurring together of songs at points. Interestingly then, Tour CD 2005 points to the gains that he made from Flames to Milk by offering a stark contrast between the wealth of material created and the selections that made the record. Here, with so much of his creative girth on display, his weaknesses are in full glare; the prolonged sequences and one-off frenzies that need to be hauled back inwards for record are included here, and they shed new light on the fluidity and restraint of Milk. In short, these are the cuts cut for good reason.
Opening with an exhausting DJ set that moves from the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane to old-school soul samples and psychedelic pop, from splintered jam-band funk to folk and early electro, Snaith offers you a glimpse at his aural pedigree. It’s rarely anything you couldn’t gain from popping in his own records though, and the seamless transitions beg for Snaith to apply his talents and remix some of the material. Buried beneath his trademarked thicket of sound, the source material might be an engaging listen. Without his fingerprints on any of the originals, it’s a semi-graceful attempt at record-collection-braggadocio.
Skipping past the mix, Snaith offers a mixed bag of Milk material as enlightening as it is frustrating. “Bloody Murder,” for example, reflects the sun-blind glee of Up in Flames—a bludgeoning of percussion and myriad effects—while “Cardiff” carries a dead martial beat like a Dixie albatross: dirty dead soil, grass softened by passing troops, and the escape of sunstroke.
On very rare occasions though, Snaith exhumes material that might even have improved the already unassailable Milk. “Medium Sized Working Dog (Steady Steady)” hops a propulsive beat and playful guitar lines that dissolve against the drums like sugar into water. At seven minutes long, it’s the record’s centerpiece, marking the best example of just how tight Snaith was when cutting down Milk. “The Snow Capes” is similarly endearing, limber with a play-it-funky-now Clyde Stubblefield beat and brittle computer tones. As with much of the material here though, it lingers either a little too long or fades in a hurried snuff.
As an album, file Tour CD 2005 under ‘collectors only’, right next to Com Lag and Phantom Phorce. The stark heady grooves offered here won’t be worth much to those not already following Snaith’s every move. But, as with anything he does, there are those moments where you sink beneath his colorful mania. Hold to those ‘til the next proper Caribou release.