Daedelus

Bespoke

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For better or worse, Daedelus, by now one of the L.A. electronica scene's elder statesmen, has never been too interested in the abrasive unease-inducing beats and noises that his contemporaries often turn to. Instead, the man known to his friends as Alfred Darlington focuses on making warmly layered, melody-driven compositions that more often bring to mind sunlit beaches than they do grimy, poorly lit nightclubs. He didn't change up this formula on Bespoke, which -- the word itself reflecting some kind of American linguistic zeitgeist, as well as connoting the British sartorial system -- is Daedelus' 12th full-length, and his fourth on label Ninja Tune. Not that this continuity is a bad thing: the producer has mastered the enveloping swells and bursts that define his style, and to listen to it in practice is a pleasure. His music is about momentum, not necessarily movement, and it works. Take "Slowercase D," for example, a track that rides along for more than six minutes, whirling and twisting, rising up and down, but never really moving forward, like how water molecules circle within a wave. But because Daedelus isn't out to prove a bigger point, to expound on a theory; because all he wants to do is make something beautiful, this isn't a flaw, and in fact, would lose its effect if it tried to be anything else.

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. It's an impressive accomplishment, to say the least, and one that only continues to prove Daedelus' place on top.

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