MANITOBA with the RUSSIAN FUTURISTS and DJ KOUSHIK at Ted's Wrecking Yard (549 College), Saturday (March 24). $5. 416-928-5012. Rating: NNNNN
for someone who insists he had no idea what he was working toward while putting together his remarkable debut album, Dan Snaith certainly has things going his way.The Toronto DJ and producer, who operates under the alias Manitoba when he's not finishing his master's degree in mathematics at U of T, is stirring up a storm with his understated electro programming.
Start Breaking My Heart, Snaith's first full-length album, to be released next week on the hip UK label Leaf, is the warmest and most interesting electronic music album of the year so far. A collection of jazzy, highly melodic armchair beats, it's driven by fluid keyboard lines and the occasional guitar riff underpinned by frantic drum programming and a children's sing-along.
The album's strong melodies, and the fact that Snaith puts together complete songs rather than simply five minutes of clattering beats, have had the fickle British dance press calling Manitoba the next Boards of Canada. That's not far off, but the overwhelmed Snaith insists that nothing has changed since he stole a sampler from his high school and began making beats.
"I definitely didn't have a master plan when I started this record," he laughs prior to the Start Breaking My Heart record release party Saturday (March 24) at Ted's Wrecking Yard. "I really just make music by messing around, making melodies, throwing samples in and playing stuff on real instruments."
Aside from melodic electronic music, Snaith's been listening to hiphop forever, as well as indie rock and folk -- so his tastes set him apart, but so does geography.
"I grew up in Dundas, Ontario, and there's a group of us from there who all have the same musical interests. I think because we grew up in this isolated place and listened to the Byrds as much as Aphex Twin, my music sounded different."
Those intrigued by the jazz- and folk-tinged beats on Manitoba's album should know that those sounds have no relation to what Snaith offers up live.
When he gets behind the decks Saturday and at the Exclaim! Magazine anniversary party April 14, the producer likes to surprise people with a fiercely eclectic mix of whatever records turn his mind at the moment. Get used to it.
"I tend to play a mix of music that not many other people would bother to try," Snaith explains. "I mix hiphop and UK garage with psych rock, folk and disco. It's anything that catches my interest.
"It doesn't do much for the promotion of my record, and it's pretty difficult to reconcile the Manitoba music with this. I like to do a lot of different things, though."