December 9, 2023

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Daphni: Cherry Album Review | Pitchfork

Most tracks barely make it past the three-minute mark, and some are positively skeletal: “Crimson,” a pinging arpeggio stretched across a wispy suggestion of white-noise hi-hats, sounds like a club anthem that’s been sun-bleached until only the faintest streaks of color are left. “Falling” loops a four-bar snatch of what might be ’80s soul, a little bit like one of Oneohtrix Point Never’s Chuck Person jams, but a rolling filter sweep wrings hidden harmonics from the sample; starting out high and hissy, it plunges to deep, chest-massaging sub-bass. Every time the sample loops, the kick drum makes itself felt exactly once, and it’s hard to overstate how satisfying it is when it hits home. Even on the simplest songs, Cherry’s sound design is uniformly stunning, with worlds of detail lurking in the shadow of every hand-carved break and modular gurgle.

The mood is overwhelmingly upbeat; bar for bar, this might be the most fun there is to be had on a dance record this year. “Mania” flips Todd Edwards-style vocal chops and a fidget-house beat, of all things, into beatific dub techno. “Cloudy” drizzles on jazz piano runs like maple syrup, recalling the quicksilver Rhodes soloing of Daft Punk’s “Disco Cubizm” remix. “Take Two,” a highlight, is a thundering filter-disco anthem greased by bent notes and propelled by hip-hop crowd chants of “Go! Go! Go!”—an unexpected grace note that tips the mood from euphoric to outright giddy. The lush keys and dandelion-tuft vocal loops of opener “Arrow” would have made a lovely, if unsurprising, downtempo ballad. Instead, Snaith opts to push the BPMs and lace the rhythm with lacerating hi-hats. Cherry is often as sweet as anything Snaith has recorded under either alias, but it’s clear that for now, energy is front of mind. Unlike club music meant for DJ mixing, whose patient intros and outros are wont to prod home listeners to reach for the skip button, these bite-sized pieces invariably leave you wanting more.

A lot of electronic music, even when it’s made for dancing, is complex, byzantine, knotted up in heady concepts. Cherry is none of these things. A tour de force of dancefloor intuition and emotional release, it has no point to prove; pleasure is the chief, perhaps the only, concern. The music is breathtakingly simple but also sneakily and refreshingly adventurous. Listening to the carefully wrought songs on Suddenly, I wished that Snaith had given freer rein to his experimental instincts. On Cherry, he cuts loose.


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