Eccentric Los Angeles-based beatmaker Daedelus (real name Alfred Darlington) most recently graced us last year with his ‘Kneedelus’ collaboration alongside Kneebody on Brainfeeder, and now this latest album ‘Labyrinths’ offers up Daedelus’ first solo release on his own Magical Properties. It’s something of a guest-packed affair as well, the twelve tracks collected here featuring appearances from fellow LA producer Teebs, Julian Casablancas & The Voidz drummer Alex Carapetis, Busdriver and Daedelus’s wife and Long Lost collaborator Laura Darlington, just to name a few of the artists that surface here.
While he’s now in full autonomic control of his musical output, in truth ‘Labyrinths’ doesn’t exactly see Daedelus ripping up the rulebook, and the fusion of unpredictable broken rhythms and odd time signatures being crafted here fits comfortably alongside his preceding works on Ninja Tune and Brainfeeder. Like many of his preceding albums, ‘Labyrinths’ offers comes across less as a cohesive listening experience, and often more like a collection of as many of Daedelus’ ideas as possible being shoehorned into the one brimming container. While there are certainly some abrupt shifts between moods and styles though, there’s still plenty here to dazzle the brain and feet.
Darlington describes this album as being both a critique and a response to the current state of EDM, and the jittery title track certainly presents a compelling case for this as clicking footwork-tinged 808 toms roll beneath bright pitch-bent synths, the emergence of twinkling arpeggios signaling a turn into more rave-y day-glo territory as sine wave bass swells prowl in the foreground. In sharp contrast, the aptly titled ‘Tussle’ offers up a collaboration with Seven Davis Jr that sees things getting dark and ominous as a repeated vocal sample intoning “reload” gets crushed into oblivion against a harsh industrial snare and eerie sub-bass wobbles that almost sound like they’re oozing out of the speakers, the appearance of ghostly pitch-bent soul vocals and double-bass pulling things further into the void.
‘In Your End’ sees Daedelus matching the mounting tension of Busdriver’s tensely acrobatic MC delivery with his surging music backing, the collision between the galloping baile-funk rhythms and the urgent massed soul backing vocals offering up what’s easily one of this album’s most spectacular moments. Elsewhere, ‘Crime Of Passion’ manages to draw a line between blocky gamecore electronics and smoky noir as clattering breakbeats and wriggling analogue synths wander beneath Laura Darlington’s eerie chanteuse vocals, the entire track deconstructing into a jittery footwork breakdown at one point. While ‘Labyrinths’ occasionally offers up something of an abrupt, jumpy listen, Daedelus’ latest box of ideas is still more inspired than most beatmakers out there.