Release Date: Apr 26, 2011
Record label: Ninja Tune
Just in time for spring, bass mastermind Daedelus unleashes Bespoke, yet another cornucopia of utterly unique vibes and big beat journeys that are somehow also Ibiza-appropriate. Guests appear (Busdriver, Baths, Bilal), horns bloom and drums burst forth continually, frothing and taking up oceans of space. Bespoke is fashion-themed, with track titles like “French Cuffs” and “Tailor-Made,” yet (perhaps tellingly) one called “In Tatters” displays Daedelus at his most emotionally complex, with deep melodies to match.
My first grade teacher gave my class an assignment where each student learned how to use a dictionary by finding a word that began with the same letter as his/her first initial and described them. I chose the word “dandy,” because it was conveniently located in the beginning of the “D” section. It also included not just my first initial, but my whole first name.
Though never indebted to them, Daedelus has always been a producer adept at utilizing vocalists (take the joint record with Busdriver, The Weather), but on Bespoke, he pushes this even further to the forefront, featuring no less than seven singers, including Bilal, Inara George from The Bird and a Bee, and Will Wiesenfeld, aka Baths. It's a seemingly disparate list, but it's a testament to the producer's abilities that he can craft songs that fit so well with each voice. Because besides the play on words of the title with the song titles ("Suit Yourself," "Sew, Darn, Mend," etc), the "bespoke" quality of the album is its ability to appeal to a variety of listeners, in a variety of styles, from the indie experimental Baths ("French Cuffs") to "Suit Yourself," which sounds like it should be a UGK beat, to "In Tatters," which is poppy and processed enough to satisfy Imogen Heap fans.
The term "bespoke" refers to the detail-oriented process of making custom-made clothing; it's also the name of the new full-length from Los Angeles-based electronic veteran Alfred Darlington, aka Daedelus. Excluding the man's sartorial fixations, the name seems like an ill fit. Throughout his decade-long career, he's been seemingly averse to the process of tightening and self-editing, instead choosing to stuff every idea that pops into his head into misshapen, often uninteristing bursts of sound.
California’s resident electro DJ/producer Alfred Darlington, known musically as Daedelus, does a great many things on his 2011 release Bespoke. Getting a lot done is one thing and is no easy feat. So where Bespoke might understandably be criticized in spots for lacking listener accessibility, it’s important to remember that the trade off for this is an album brimming with ideas.
Alfred Darlington is a musical magpie, hoarding the shiniest elements of his contemporaries’ output, skipping from label to label, appropriating and assimilating sounds to spin cluttered nests of agreeable electronica. Despite his most obvious attempts to build himself a persona — a faintly Steampunk dress sense and well-trimmed set of chops, prominent use of the Monome — Daedelus lacks a sonic signature. At its worst, his work feels both stultifyingly basic and overstuffed.
A fantastic new set from the LA producer, guaranteed to spread good cheer. Mike Diver 2011 Daedelus, aka Alfred Darlington, says of the title of this new collection, the Ninja Tune follow-up to 2008’s awesomely upbeat Love to Make Music To: "I not only intended it as a reflection of the LP itself, but also an outlook on life". Deep, dude. But one can put Darlington’s obsession with archaic fashion of the Victorian era to one side when assessing this 11-track set – as, just like previous long-players from the Los Angeles producer, it’s a future-nudging collection that complements the best of today with sounds coming to a chart near you around 2014.