From the LP, Drown Out, available September 17, 2013.
There is music that’s made from the outside looking in. The textures are vibrant and the beats bang, but there’s a hollow radiance at the core. It’s pantomime. Then there’s Los Angeles' Alfred Darlington aka Daedelus, who has released a dozen albums in a dozen years straddling countless sub-genres. They’re united by his insistence on letting his emotions guide the blueprint.
If you’ve listened to his music, you understand. There is a balance between the direct and the obtuse that can’t be articulated in words. This is part of the subtext for Drown Out, Daedelus’ most elegiac album. His debut for Anticon is a heart-on-sleeve meditation devoted to loss, coded language, and the maddening failures of communication. And yet you can still bob your head to it.
"Music can be this ultimate form of poetry—a place to express huge ideas and a whole range of emotion in a few minutes,” Daedelus, says. “But it can fall short because no one can quite share in the experience as much as you feel yourself. Someone can empathize, but your melancholy ultimately rests in you. Title the songs, name the album, but the music is what speaks in the end." Perfectly imperfect.
There’s a sadness that courses through Drown Out. During its gestation, Daedelus grappled with deaths of his grandmother and close friend and collaborator, Austin Peralta, as well the debilitating illness of another close family member forced him to take a sabbatical from touring. The grief is exorcised not through overwrought builds and releases, but through quiet ripples and agnostic hymnals—a winding and unraveling of nerves.
It can be alternately intense or mellow, melancholy or ebullient, danceable or introspective. Genres ransacked and sublimated include 90s West Coast gangsta rap, rave, classical, jazz, footwork, juke, and the heavy beats that crop up out of the Low End Theory. There are neither speed limits nor straight paths, but there’s always a voice and a roadmap.
“I want the sound to be an emotion,” Daedelus says. “When there’s a sample it should relate the subject material. No matter if it’s a little obtuse at times; the feelings are so murky.”
You'll hear the sounds of skateboards clattering, the chirps of crickets, even drying eyes. There is secreted fragments of morse code and other musique concrète kicking up dusty grooves. As well seraphic vocals and lively instrumentation. The album feels like a reckless encounter when no one is watching—when you know that you’re really alone, awkward on the dance floor. The album feels like wildly encountering a crowded room with reckless dances, with no fear towards their awkward angles.
“Everyone deals with death and departure in their own way. For me, it started to stew and manifest itself in sound. Almost ridiculous to try to express because of how jagged it feels, it’s easier to face through music,” Daedelus says. “There was a longing to express myself louder then the grief. This is the album that I needed to make.”