Daedelus’ world is one of fantasy and wonder. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he gets his kicks on quirk and imagination, rather than fat beats and bangin’ grooves. He’s far more likely to sample Jobim than Public Enemy and as such, made LA-based label Plug Research his home for a while, alongside eccentric locals like DNTEL, who, similarly, approaches electronica differently than many of dance music’s biggest names.
On his latest, Exquisite Corpse, Daedelus takes on several collaborations, injecting his playful sound with live vocals and rapping. Though the Southland producer, technically, makes dance music, hearing emcees alongside his oddball samples seems somewhat idiosyncratic and a bit out of place. Hell, if it were done poorly, it could even become embarrassing. But, clearly it isn’t here. Despite guest spots by MF DOOM and Sci, among others, Daedelus’ style hasn’t been compromised. It may not have the same magic as his instrumental work, but that isn’t to say that there isn’t a fair amount of trademark Daedelus material on Corpse.
Daedelus’ choice of guests works out in his favor, as each one lends a unique element to the equation. DOOM in particular offers one of his trademark goofball rhymes: “Y’all don’t know the same Daedelus I know/Just to earn trust he try to make me bust a wino/he said don’t worry/he already dead and stinkin’/attacked him with a machete/he said why you still blinkin’.” Sci’s rhyming on “Move On” is far subtler by comparison. “Now And Sleep” is much more in line with Daedelus’ typical material, dreamy and strange, as Laura Darling offers a lullaby vocal performance. And glitch-hop superstar Prefuse 73 adds his trademark electro squeals to “Welcome Home.” But the French rapping of TTC on “Cadavre Exquis” can be thrown out altogether, if you ask me.
The real highlights are the D-man’s lone tracks, though. “Dearly Departed” opens the record with the same mystical fun that made Of Snowdonia so enjoyable. “The Crippled Hand” is noisier by comparison, while “Fallen Love” is an odd mix of strings and stuttering beats. And the one-minute “The Trains Are Now So Clean” mashes up b-boy styles with plinky piano melodies.
While the contributors on Exquisite Corpse add plenty of character and color to the record, they don’t allow a lot of room for Daedelus, himself, to show off his own skills. Corpse is a good listen, regardless, though it would be nice to see more solo soundscapes by this talented LA beatsmith in the future.
Madlib – Shades of Blue
DJ Food – Kaleidoscope
Dabrye – One/Three
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.