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Daphni – Daphni Edits Vol 1 review

Dan Snaith’s career has never really looked in danger of approaching stagnation thanks to his chameleon approach to musical style. Over the course of six albums, the Canadian has touched on experimental electronics, leftfield krautrock and gloriously kaleidoscopic psychedelic pop. All this before he arrived at the Border Community leaning organic swerve betwixt house and techno which characterised his most lauded work to date in last year’s Swim – indeed it was lauded as the best album of 2010 on these very pages.

It’s perhaps this recent widespread critical acclaim that has lead Snaith to start producing new material under a shiny new alias in Daphni. He is of course no stranger to name changes, being the victim of one of the music world’s most bizarre lawsuits that forced him to abandon the Manitoba moniker (under which he produced the startling album Up In Flames which is worth seeking out for those unfamiliar).

Snaith introduced an enraptured audience to a raft of new Daphni material on his submission to the Podcast Hall Of Fame overseen by Resident Advisor earlier this year. The subsequent vinyl only double drop of Daphni and Four Tet on the latter’s Text imprint seems to have been sucked down the plughole of memory thanks to the axis of hype operated by Thom Yorke and Burial.

The latest slice of Daphni ingenuity comes via the newly formed Resista label, with Snaith flexing his editing skills on two lesser spotted oddities. “Mapfumo” touches on African Highlife, with Snaith extending and embellishing Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited’s 1986 track “Shumba”. Initially staying faithful to the original, it’s the midway arrival of a skeletal 4×4 thump where Snaith begins to weave his magic.  The intricate guitar melodies skip in and out of focus as a stuttering wall of sub bass fills before the vocals slide back in and the newly fattened groove rides out.

As pleasant as “Shumba” is, the real fire is reserved for the B Side with Snaith dropping the tribal brain cell failure inducing throb of “NPE” – a primal post punk track supposedly lifted from mid 80s Dutch obscurity. If you can imagine Demdike Stare recreating the visceral energy of Liquid Liquid and throwing in some slowed down samples from The Flirts most ubiquitous moment then you might have a grasp on how devilishly good this sounds.

Tony Poland