Friday, February 03, 2006

Bestest of 2005: Caribou- The Milk of Human Kindness

I bet you probably thought #1 was going to be Sufjan Stevens or that Antony guy, didn't you?That isn't entirely unreasonable given that you probably haven't read very many year end lists that put this album at or near the top (lord knows you've had the chance to read every one of them, this being February 5th and all), or very many that DIDN'T include one or both of those albums. And if we were basing our judgment on this record and this record alone, we might not have put it so high up on the list, even though it surely would have cracked the top ten. However, when we include the band's Marino DVD and Audio, also released this year, along with the two Caribou live performances we caught in 2005, they all add up to 2005's most inspiring and important package of music with a damn good record as a centerpiece.

Wait, thats not fair is it? To judge all the other records on their own merits while factoring in live shows and videos and a whole other CD with this release? Ok Ok. Even if you take away the excellent Marino Audio AND the live performances, we would still put this record at #1 on our list as long as we get to keep the Marino DVD videos, which are mostly original video pieces produced to play along with the songs on this record anyway. The reason we must insist on this course of action is that Caribou truly is a multimedia group that thrives on the ability to warp your mind with sights AND songs. Just check out one of their trance inducing live performances and you'll understand: Dan Snaith and the rest of the band take a backseat to the music as well as the videos, all of which are collected on Marino and displayed on a large screen during their shows. Get lost in the videos for a few minutes and you'll forget that the guys are even there, playing live in front of you. The interesting part is that aside from the live drums, they probably don't even have to be.

The closest reference points to describe this band would probably be the Silver Apples and Can, although Eno and even the Super Furry Animals (whom they opened for this year) also come to mind. Opener "Yeti" starts off as quiet synth pop and stays that way until about half way through when the drums kick in and everything explodes. Really, if you haven't heard Caribou yet, just listen to this song and you'll probably be sold entirely. If not, you can move on to the blues of Velvet Undergoundy "Bees," or the machine gun percussion of "Brahminy Kite," which is probably the most Silver Apples sounding track on the record. If none of that pleases you, you're probably dead... but you can check for signs of life by listening to the insanely intense build up of "A Final Warning," where bouncy beats and prog rock keyboards turn into third world percussion breakdowns and noise right before your very ears.

And right before your very eyes, if you're watching the Marino DVD, you'll also see a tense peak in "A Final Warning," which seems to be the centerpiece of a loose conglomerate of videos that all revolve around some kind of concept involving an alien and some guy doing, um, something. Even though its hard to follow the storyline of these videos, they really are a terrific companion to the songs on this record, as well as a few of the older songs released under the band's former moniker Manitoba. Most of the videos are animation or some combination of animation and film that leave you with a feeling of happiness mixed with a slight, vague paranoia that is usually induced by certain psychedelic drugs that you may or may not have done in your past or present. And although the best way to experience Caribou is their live performance with two drummers, the videos, and the music at once; the Marino DVD and Milk of Human Kindness record will do just fine until the next time they come to town. And again, its not that the record isn't incredible on its own. It is. Its just that we felt the need to tell you about all the parts of our 2005 experience with Caribou, since they all had something to do with making this record and this band our new favorites.


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