Chris Moore’s Artist Of The Week: Daedelus

Behold, the legendary Greek myth of Daedalus.  The cunning craftsman and artisan who built the infamous Labyrinth that housed the Minotaur.  The Labyrinth was so wild, and the beast it kept so fierce, King Minos locked up Daedalus and his son Icarus in a tower to prevent Daedalus’s technical knowledge of the Labyrinth to spread to the public.  From here, you know the story, to escape entrapment, Daedalus built wings for him and his son and they flew out of the tower.  Icarus, a rebellious lad, flew too close to the sun, burned his wings and drowned in the sea.  To atone for the misery brought from his hands, Daedalus built a temple for Apollo and hung his wings upon the altar. The application of invention weighs more heavily than the soul of the craftsman.

Now forward eons later in the age of technological modernity and behold the mystic electronic producer Alfred Darlington, a.k.a, Daedelus (notice the vowel change after the second “d”). Over the years, Darlington’s chopped and screwed dance hip-hop has taken new forms.  Initially, when signed to the Ninja Tunes record label, he outputted a lot of romantic-Brazilian-dance-hip-hop (check out the albums “Exquisite Corpse” and “Denies The Days Demise”).  Yet his sample collages seemed so dizzying, you could only scratch at your head at what’s going on a deceivingly simple labyrinth of sound.  A whirlwind of acoustic guitars, big band trumpets, soul shouts, tribal percussion and warped snyths, presented a refreshing style of electronic pop musicianship but it all sounded too muddled, too cramped.  Like a lucid dream being fast-forwarded or put in a blender, in your head.

Thankfully Darlington has uncoupled the wad of his collages, and constructed smoother and newer wings of sound.  His 2008 release “Love To Make Music To”; he masters how to juxtapose his sound collages with the melodies of emotion.  More beat centric than his previous works, Darlington brings uplifting electro disco that can bring energy to a roller disco with tenderness of a couple holding hands for the first time (can be heard in the song “Make It So”).  Darlington also offers enchanting refrains of the complexity of love in songs like “L.A. Nocturn”.  In these types of songs love is not spoken through lyrics or voices, but through simple instrumentation.  Yearning synth pads waltz, with a melancholy guitar melody, as a crushed beat slowly stomps.  As if an unrequited love has blissfully changed its direction, the song builds to its climax, as the crushed beat takes the hands of the melancholy and yearning to somewhere hopeful.

A true romantic, Darlington has also done an electro-acoustic project with his wife Laura Darlington, called “The Long Lost.”  An even truer Romantic, he dresses like an authentic 19th Century Dandy, coattails and all, when he performs which is more of him seemingly playing his works, with his favorite dance cuts, into a unique tapestry of serenity and crazy footloose.  His next album, “Righteous Fists of Harmony”, will come out next month on L.A.’s Brainfeeder label, founded by Flying Lotus.  Though Daedalus (the legend, not Darlington) is associated with classic craftsmanship and his son Icarus as the self-destructive Romantic artist, Alfred Darlington has found a middle ground between the both and is maturing to something more profound and romantically heroic.


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