November 1, 2013
Posted by: Lauralie Ezra
There are many artists in electronic music that have created a unique and arresting stage persona. Many are secretive and intentionally mysterious. Some can be downright over-the-top. Some are both (and as an aside, I really want to know what most baby boomers who caught a glimpse of Deadmau5 at the Grammy’s may have had running through their minds).
However, there is one electronic music artist, glitch/downtempo wizard Daedelus, whose distinguishing trait – aside from being a perfect alchemist who combines old, unmodified recordings with modern beats – is that he dons the appearance of a time traveler. The mutton chops, red Victorian coat, and even the fact that he has taken on the name Alfred Darlington all contribute to a stage persona that gives the us the sense that we are watching an old-time genius in the act of invention.
Actually, in a way he is an inventor, or at least a trailblazer – one of the most striking aspects of his live show is the button grid Monome on which he seems to operate like a steampunk scientist, and he is regarded as the first artist to use one prominently in a live act. It is worth the price of admission to see Daedelus just for the trip brought on by the incongruity of an H.G. Well’s character summoning beats from a device crafted through seemingly alien technology.
Of course, if you paid the price of admission just for that you would get far more in return. It is not a surprise that Daedelus studied jazz on double bass at USC as he is a master of improvisation – not unlike bass virtuoso Tom Jenkinson/Squarepusher. Moreover, over the course of a dozen album releases he has created a style that defies categorization but is easily accessible to any listener. Using antique recordings – anything from what sound like classic film scores to Louis Armstrong to Dave Brubeck to Burt Bacharach – he usually builds a gentle, lilting layer that slowly washes over us, and then gives it greater form with a backbone of techy beats, and then with his glitch and jazz-inspired mastery takes the song wherever he wants it to go, invariably with surprises that are quite pleasant.
While some artists may take on a persona to create anonymity, or to give their live shows an intense flavor they otherwise would not have, Daedelus has achieved something different and very interesting. The old-timey trapping create sort of an artistic detachment as most stage personas do, but they also complement a musical style that is classy, nostalgic, expressive, innovative, and honest all at the same time.