If the mere mention of the phrase “experimental electronica” makes you uncontrollably paranoid of rekindling unwanted relationships with fragmented flashbacks, you are not alone. Shades violently pulled down to block out the ineluctable light of morning, twisted kaleidoscopic snapshots in an abused brain that yearns to find the “off switch”, insipid and unsympathetic modern madness filtering through a pair of headphones . . . we’ve all been there, right?, right?. Anyways, thanks to Toronto native Dan Snatih, a.k.a. Manitoba, we no longer have to suffer a Pavlovian chemical aftertaste by simply browsing through the electronica section of our favourite shop. Start Breaking My Heart, the first full-length offering from this 22-year-old math whiz kid will renew your faith for the possibility of comfort in the increasingly uninviting down-tempo realm.
Snaith’s understanding of the importance of melody, acquired no doubt during his studies of both the classical and jazz worlds is the difference. It is this knowledge that permits Snaith to successfully conflate quirky experimentations with human emotions. The result, a magical album that is simultaneously esoteric and organic.
While one listen to Start Breaking My Heart will leave snooty electro-literates categorizing him as a devout follower of the Aphex Twin religion, Snaith’s music is inherently more innocent. Playful skipping rhythms, intricate percussive patterns and sinfully simplistic melodies combine with ease throughout. In reality, each of the album’s ten tracks exists in a world of its own. Yet somehow, like all truly great records, the overall picture makes perfect sense. Think of a puzzle; each piece being unique and beautiful by its own merits, yet, its essence only becomes utterly apparent upon completion of the work as a whole. This is Start Breaking My Heart‘s greatest accomplishment.
As previously eluded to, Snaith’s work is obviously influenced by the more melodiously conscious preachers of electronica, namely Richard D. James (Apex Twin), Boards of Canada and Kieran Hebden (Fridge). Further dissection reveals varying influences of equal importance. Having orally feasted on a musical smorgasbord since his diaper sporting years, Snaith’s sound also incorporates elements of psychedelic rock, classic pop, folk and modern indie stylings. The common link between this wide scope of genres is song writing. Snaith is very concerned with the notion of creating resonating accessible songs, something that is rarely seen within the electronic producing community. He is one of the few who wilfully subscibes to the idea of verse, chorus
That being said, do not expect to hear Casiofied versions of “Turn Turn Turn” or “Yesterday”. This is very much a reputable example of groundbreaking electronic soundscaping.
If Manitoba’s future offerings are as adventurous and inviting as Start Breaking My Heart, the electronic geeks and modern daytrippers of the world may have found their leader. O Canada!
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.