Daedelus

End of Empire

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Daedelus' vast, complex discography spans many styles, labels, concepts, and moods. His three solo releases for Brainfeeder during the 2010s, collected on the limited vinyl box set End of Empire, are all themed around Victorian-era battles and uprisings, and they represent some of his most ambitious, challenging work. The 2010 mini-album Righteous Fists of Harmony is about the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), and it veers between tense fight music and softer, exquisite reflections. Opener "An Armada Approaches" is six minutes of quasi-industrial menace, filled with trudging beats, ominous samples, and steadily accelerating tension. "The Finishing of a Thing" is more violent, shifting from a warbling clarinet sample to a growling, crashing attack. Much more relaxed and enchanting is "Order of the Golden Dawn," bossa nova/trip-hop fusion featuring Laura Darlington, whose lyrics directly reference the Boxer Rebellion. The 2014 album The Light Brigade focuses on the Crimean War of 1853-1856, but true to its title, it's easily the most serene, delicate entry of the trilogy, filled with soft, fragile acoustic guitars and dreamy vocals by Young Dad. While seemingly at odds with the stated inspiration of the album, it is nonetheless soothing, and at times a bit melancholy. However, 2019's The Bittereinders, centered around the brutal Second Boer War (1899-1902), is much darker and more tragic, and easily the most fascinating of the three. The full-length begins with the appropriately bitter organ drone of "Deep in Concentration," then continues to cycle through feelings of fear and confusion, expressed through tangled trumpets, shivering synths, and the occasional patch of bracing distortion. Most exciting is "Veldt," where a chaotic, severely mutilated metallic clang is tempered by the encouraging vocals of Mikhaela Faye Kruger, who urges "Stay on the ground, don't give up."

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