The last time that I saw Alfred Darlington (aka: Daedelus) I was making him some coffee. [For the coffee nerds out there, I was doing an Ethiopa Nekisse (Sidama/Shakisso) pour over through a beehouse dripper.] As I was coming back from a break, I had noticed the Los Angeles-based electronic musician/composer exiting a cafe/roastery that I barista at, so I walked out front to speak with him and offer to make him a cup of those crazy $39 per/lb beans that had just come in. It was the end of last October and he was in the middle of his Magical Properties tour, with a Seattle show scheduled in town that night. This was just 5 days after Memes conducted our interview with co-headliner, The Gaslamp Killer during the tour’s previous stop in San Francisco. I had originally met Alfred back when I was arranging our 2007 interview with him; also conducted by Memes and only the 3rd interview we ever posted on the site. As I slowly poured steaming water over the grounds, there was a quiet, inconspicuous kid to his side who I was introduced to as Teebs; another artist signed to Flying Lotus‘ Brainfeeder label. It wasn’t until I got home and checked the internet that I found out what a talented painter and musician Teebs was. Although the skateboarder-turned-electronic prodigy developed a lot of his skills during his time living with Flylo and Samiyam, I couldn’t help but recognize familiar elements from much of Daedelus‘ lush, hazy, down-tempo landscapes. At one time a newcomer, wielding nothing but his own hybrid visions of elegant steam-punk electronica, it seems that the musical world has finally begun to catch up to a sound that Darlington began crafting a decade ago. Not only that, but it also seems that, after 10 years in the game, the world is really beginning to acknowledge his contributions.
I remember hating most electronic music in the 1990s, because the only people that ever tried to introduce me to anything were candy ravers that were blasting terrible house music. Not including new wave acts like DEVO, Kraftwerk was the only heavily electronic-based artists that I thought had any validity to them at the time. It wasn’t until I finally began hearing crazy IDM and drill ‘n’ bass shit from people like Richard D. James (aka: Aphex Twin) and Tom Jenkinson (aka: Squarepusher) or the dark jazzed-tinged, drum ‘n’ bass sounds of Amon Tobin that my eyes were truly opened to a new world of possibilities for music in general. When I first heard DAEDELUS it was through his Household EP and there was something noticibly different about it. I had been drawn into the brilliant chaos, hardcore schizophrenic onslaughts, and dungeonous grime of electronica and Darlington‘s glitchy, yet cloud-like, calculated downtempo beats had thrown the gears into neutral and stalled out in a dreamlike world of cotton candy flavored nitrous oxide and welcoming Electric Grandmother-style androids. The remarkable Four Tet played with similar pacing on albums like PAUSE, but, just as Kieran Hebden had his own distinct “folktronica” sound, Darlington‘s formula has always been uniquely his own.
A couple of years ago, I remember reading a local weekly that finally jumped on board to credit Daedelus with a title that fell somewhere along the lines of “one of the most exciting new voices in electronic music.” Obviously, they were about 8 years too late, but I will say that there does seem to be an influx of younger talent utilizing those slow-winding clock and foggy antique radio fuzz sounds that I was first attracted to through his work. This year marks the 10 year anniversary since Daedelus released his very first album, Portrait of an Artist (Distill Records). This month marks the release of his latest effort, Bespoke (Ninja Tune), which features a collaboration with Baths, a young artist who is gaining solid recognition for his ability to successfully paint somewhat similar sonic landscapes as those explored by Darlington over the years.
In their own celebration of the landmark year for the influential producer/musician, the portable/protective electronic casing manufacturer, INCASE invited Daedelus to take part in episode 7 of their Room 205 musical series.
Here’s a brief description provided to us about the series:
About Room 205
“Working in collaboration with visiting musicians and a revolving cast of filmmakers, set designers, audio engineers and friends, Room 205 exists to share our collective passion for art and music and showcase the people that inspire us.“
… and about Daedelus episode in particular:
“..When asked to envision his visit to Room 205, Daedelus decisively stated, ‘I would like to perform at a seance in a Victorian parlor accompanied by ghosts. Conjuring the music, so to speak.‘ “
The song featured in the video isn’t from the new album, but rather from one of my favorite Daedelus efforts that he’s ever released. “Scaling Snowdon” originally appeared on Of Snowdonia (Plug Research, 2004) and is a great example of the style that not only first drew me to his earlier work, but keeps albums like this and Invention on semi-regular rotation for me to this day.
Scaling Snowdon (Slow Climb Version)
As a 3-part series, the second and third video installments for the Daedelus episode of Room 205 will be made available on April 11th and 18th respectively.
BESPOKE is available now from Ninja Tune records HERE