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  Caribou - The Milk Of Human Kindness  
Caribou - The Milk of Human Kindness

Caribou was formerly Manitoba, for those who don't already know. The threat of a lawsuit from musician Dick Manitoba forced a legal rethinking of the name.

And why not rethink the way you record music while you're at it? This album came about with a more loose and free style in terms of recording process. You can refer to other Web sites about the Dick thing, it's been overreported as far as I'm concerned.

The result is an album that's all over the map, but that's good because it's all over the map in the best way. There are elements of drum and bass, electronic, folk, indie rock, orchestral strings, hip-hop rythyms, lou barlow-like bedroom tape collages, and noisy interludes. OK, we've got a lot of ground to cover.

From the opening track of Yeti it starts with a mix of noise and indie rock, basted in an electronic glow of droney keyboards. Anyone who has seen Stereolab play live in the good old days of the massive build up of keyboard droning until it practically explodes in your face will hear traces of that energy here.

From there we're off to the noisy interlude of Subotnick. Short and quick, and the brash horn burst at the end is fantastic.

We then coast into A Final Warning, meandering along the indie rock-folk-electronic path until it picks up with the vocals (ahhhooum!) at which point the drums build and fade away, build and fade away, build and fade away. Then it gets quiet. OK, this one gets kind of boring.

But that's OK, because then come the hip-hop beats of Lord Leopard. Right back on focus.

Over in 97 seconds we move to Bees, a knee-slapping folkiness. This could have been playing on the dashboard radio when Jack Kerouac had his experiences for On The Road. But then it sounds like recorders in the background. Remember the recorder from elementary school music class? The recorder, yo! The easiest of woodwind instruments to play, the simplest sounding, but effective because of its straight-forwardness.

Of course, everything up until now has been irrelevant, because it's all a warm-up for what happens when we get to Hello Hammerheads, a mid-tempo quiet folkie acoustic bit. Brooding and deliberate.

Then on to the steady crispness of the rythyms for Brahminy Kite. Quick and precise, like a marching band on a mission to musical salvation. And they're bringin' indie rock with them. "And I'm descending all the time, pretending all the time, pretending to be free." This might be my favorite song on the album.

Then Drumheller starts out like something Lou Barlow recorded in the back-back bedroom. 93 seconds. Some of these songs are over quickly, like short attention span soundtracks for the modern age.

The final song Barnowl starts out like more Stereolab hommage (in the best way), then moving to folky-indie rock section, only to come back to the funky blips and the droning and the keyboards and the energy. In the end, Barnowl ends up sounding as way out as sitting alone in a dark barn at midnight watching an owl in his own world.

Oh gee, look at the time! I need to get out of this article. Buy this album, it's very interesting. There really is no direct comparison, Caribou doesn't sound like anybody else. That's part of why this is so interesting. It's also good because of they way in which styles are mixed together. Anybody can mix genres, but can they mix them together well? Caribou can.

RATING: ***** 4 out of 5 stars


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Tracklist for Caribou - The Milk of Human Kindness
1 Yeti
2 Subotnick
3 Final Warning
4 Lord Leopard
5 Bees
6 Hands First
7 Hello Hammerheads
8 Brahminy Kite
9 Drumheller
10 Pelican Narrows
11 Barnowl

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