Dan Snaith has been recording electronic music since 2000, and in his many fine records he has explored many types of musics, with his earliest records sounding like fairly typical late-90s electronica (a loathsome term, but here it applies). Each successive record, though, has sounded less and less "laptop-y", and his devotion to songs rather than just textured beats sets him apart. All of his records are, in my opinion, worthy of close study (and try and track down his excellent tour-only mix CDs), but the new one, Swim, is simply amazing. This time, the beats are basically disco, but the watery, fluid production (echoed in the aquatic title; in interviews, Snaith said he'd recently learned to swim) and gentle, plaintive melodies undercut the rhythmic propulsion. Some have compared the sound to Arthur Russell, and the comparison is fitting: both make disco, but it's an arty, headphone disco. On Swim, intricate (and odd) sampled beats are occasionally frazzled by honking or looping free-jazz horns, while the quiet, emotive vocals give the record the human resonance missing from so much computer music. Fans of Four Tet, Arthur Russell, Erlend Øye, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, or Flying Lotus will definitely dig.
Hint: listen with headphones!