The rave scene and the indie rock scene have never successfully crossed paths. There are a few exceptions, of course, most notably The Postal Service and The Rapture post-DFA makeover. But there are few groups out there that can unite the baggy pants with the tight thrift store t-shirts. There is, however, a Santa Monica producer by the name of Daedelus that might have the secret to bringing horn-rimmed glasses a step closer to glow sticks.
On his third album, Of Snowdonia, Daedelus creates a bizarre, heady fantasy world that marries the synthetic with the ironic. It’s a surreal place, for sure, but not one altogether unpleasant. Quite the contrary, Of Snowdonia is one of the more human, quirky-sounding electronic releases of late, which most likely what prompts some to call it “post-electronica.” Though Daedelus uses samples and electronics, he fuses them with his own instrumentation, resulting in something that sounds like a more acid-induced version of The Books.
The first track, “Snowed In,” samples Quasi, which immediately proves his level of indie geekdom, not that it’s a bad thing. In a way, it sounds like a rougher, less dance-friendly Amon Tobin, though that comparison is fleeting. The next track, “A Sneaking Suspicion” is more traditional IDM. Daedelus lends his vocals to the third track, “Aim True,” which doesn’t sample Elvis Costello, just in case you’re wondering. One of the more fun tracks, “Taking Wing,” is a breakbeat track driven by a flute-heavy sample that most likely comes from a Jobim song.
There’s a strong jazz undercurrent on Of Snowdonia. Aside from the possible Jobim sample, there’ s Rhodes and bassoon-a-plenty, lots of vocal samples from the first half of the twentieth century and lots of moody textures all around. But as soon as you’re mesmerized by the album’s mellower tracks, along comes a track like “Something Bells,” with its rolling beat, beeping synths and childlike samples. It’s all part of the fun of listening to someone as unpredictable as Daedelus.
I’m not exactly sure what you’d call Daedelus or if he fits in to any particular genre. He certainly comes from an electronics background, though he doesn’t follow any of its rules. And though he utilizes lots of elements of indie rock, he left out the rock entirely. He’s an odd fit for fans of either genre though it’s likely that both sides would instantly take a liking to Of Snowdonia. Despite its difficulty with sticking to any one style, Of Snowdonia is a thrilling album that relies as much on melody as it does on mood.
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.