Caribou Up in Flames [as Manitoba]

[Leaf; 2003]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: electronica, psychedelic, krautrock, IDM
Others: Four Tet, Can, Neu!, Boards of Canada

It's getting harder and harder for me to listen to "hip-hop" these days. The reason I put hip-hop in quotes is because the word has been used so loosely over the past several years to describe so many different varieties of the genre. Hip-hop music has also been done so many different ways that it's almost impossible to pigeonhole what is, and is not, true hip-hop. However, many will say that rap is what you do, but hip-hop is what you are. I guess that's true in a lot of cases. So, rather than bore you with the many different sub-genres of hip-hop, I'll inform you of a new style that is actually very refreshing and new to me.

It came to me by way of Canadian artist Manitoba. Some of you may be very familiar with Manitoba's previous releases. With only a small handful of releases behind him, Manitoba has shown that the sampler is something that has almost limitless possibilities. Start Breaking My Heart was an incredible display of what electronic-sampled music can be. Up in Flames, however, is a lot different than the previous album. Its focus has changed, and while it doesn't seem to hammer too hard in any type of genre, it definitely hints strongly at the psychedelic sounds of the 60's. I read that Dan Snaith (Manitoba) even refers to this album as being "some next level Brian Wilson/Timbaland type shit." 

I would agree with this statement.  The vocals contained throughout this album bare striking resemblance to The Beach Boys style of the 60's. A lot of the vocals were provided by one of my favorite Canadian artists, Koushik. In fact, this album is incredibly similar to what Koushik did several years ago with his Battle Times EP.

Up in Flames could very easily find it's way to a lot of listener's "best of" lists this year, but for me, I guess I just still find myself being pulled away from this type of music as time goes by. Most of these songs seem to be very fluid and similar. Therefore I won't go in to too much detail about each song. One song in particular, though, has some fantastic drums. "Twins" uses a sample of drums that apparently come from a school band, and sounds as if it might have been used in a College football game. The beat diggers of the world with thoroughly enjoy this track, even if it is one of the shortest on the album.

1. I've Lived on a Dirt Road My Whole Life
2. Skunks
3. Hendrix with KO
4. Kacknuggeted
5. Why the Long Face
6. Bijoux
7. Twins
8. Kid You'll Move Mountains
9. Crayon
10. Every Time She Turns Around it's Her Birthday