Album Reviews

Daedelus – Denies The Days Demise

(Ninja Tune) UK release date: 01 May 2006

Unlike many exercises in glitchful technocentric hip-hoppery, Santa Monica’s Daedelus has elected to eschew chummy collaborations and fully go it alone for his first album for Ninja Tune.

Curiously though, the sharp bends and disparate dimensions of Denies The Days Demise could be the work of a variety of digitized pranksters. With a twisting palette of globetrotting tempos and time-shifting juxtapositions, Daedelus leaves little cause for complaint for those with attention deficit disorder.

However, even a little bit of rootlessness can leave you desperately flailing for something to hold on to. With wanderlust to the fore, Denies The Days Demise quickly instills an empathy with the weary traveller. It’s a free-styled bumpy ride, and the lurches in quality echo the wilful wayfaring.

A tough collection to make friends with, Denies The Days Demise can infuriate and delight in equal measure, often on the same track. Dreamt of Drowning appears to suffer from awkward beat syndrome, knocking down its cotton club swing. Is this some comment on the brutal and fascistic end of the modernist era, or is Daedelus just having a laugh at Eric Hobsbawm’s expense? Or mine? We may never know.

Lights Out slows the Funky Drummer riff (remember that?) down to constituent parts until breaking down to an exotica-led chorus of looped vibes, busy congas and ballroom strings. Bahia is proud to wear its Brazilian inspirations on its sleeve, promising samba nirvana until quickly dissolving into squelchy discomfort. Both offer the odd turn-of-the-tuning-dial sample, but where Lights Out amuses, Bahia is content to meander.

Like Clockwork Strings, all stressed-out Numan synths and chemist-lab chug, is the aural equivelent of mild toothache. Its just a little too unsure of itself to go all-out for the iron-smelting jugular like Squarepusher would. Our Last Stand trills along uncertainly, the odd stab of phatness resembling a truculent child awkwardly stomping around in his grandad’s demob boots before reaching its arcade soundtrack crescendo. Its not pleasant.

Much better is the light relief of Patent Pending, where amid the Les Baxter swirls and melodious tweaking, the Raymond Scott tomfoolery charms rather than grates. Its sweetness finds an echo in the antique Sly Stone drum computer noises of Sunrise, where the ever-present jitter finds a meantime of grizzled rapture.

Sawtooth EKG shudders slowly into life partnering some entirely persuasive tropical funk, the staccato strings never once forgetting that this is eclect-tronica we’re down with.

The pause for thought of Viva Vida – “live your life / you’re entire life for strife” sung glumly by a dead ringer for Mice Parade‘s Adam Pierce – where the melancholy sunset of tabla, brass, and searching airy synth is a rare moment of emotional directness. And the album’s better for it.

There’s a nagging feeling that Luke Vibert has been here before, right down to the choice of samples and inter-war nostalgia. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with kidding about with technology – in fact, some of the best music of the last fifty years has resulted from that very noodling habit – but there’s something that remains unformed about Daedelus’ music. Almost grown, but almost doesn’t quite make it.

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More on Daedelus
Daedelus – The Bittereinders
Daedelus – The Light Brigade
Daedelus – Bespoke
Daedelus – Righteous Fists Of Harmony
Daedelus – Righteous Fists Of Harmony