Rethinking the Weather

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Daedelus is one of the foremost practitioners of non-serious experimental electronic dance music. Along with Prefuse 73 and the Avalanches (and slightly older artists like Wagon Christ at his loopiest and Aphex Twin at his prankiest), Daedelus throws away the notion that electronic artists are dour bedroom dwellers with minds like pocket calculators. His first album was a lush tapestry of strange easy listening and film orchestra samples welded to unsteady hip-hop beats; this album strips away the orchestral touches and goes in for a sparser, more frantic approach loaded with samples and chopped-up beats. The fun kicks off right away with "Fin," a short stuttering blast of weird hip-hop based around playground taunts and fractured piano. From there things get even stranger -- "Going Unsteady" is so insane that it works somehow, blending lounge crooning and old-school breakbeats and leaving the listener stroking his beard (metaphorical or actual), wondering just what the hey is going on. The rest of the record is jammed with more wild and crazy tracks like the woozy blip-hop of the sample-filled "Greatly Exaggerated, Our Demise," the Sesame Street with the drum machine set on purée of "Dark Days," the bossa nova of "Bright Stars" (complete with whistling and ominous strings), and probably the best (and most straightforward) track on the record, "Robotic Girls Are Hard," which brings back memories of the Midnight Funk Association with vocodered vocals, funky beats, and a great melody. The record loses some steam at the end; "Without Words" is an overdriven, gloomy dirge that sounds like it should be on a Skinny Puppy record and "Hardly Hip-Hop" is a tuneless, noisy track that meanders around doing nothing for three annoying minutes. It is almost enough to ruin the transcendent ten tracks that precede them. Almost. Besides, you can always just stop the disc before you get to them. Rethinking the Weather is more proof that Daedelus is onto something really good. Funny, smart, and not afraid to get wacky, this is one of the best electronic records of 2003.

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