It must be great to be Alfred Darlington. The tweed suits, the PG Wodehouse-esque name, all awesome. But what must be so extra lovely is the complete musical freedom he enjoys. From indie-tronica, to the dank hip-hop of his Exquisite Corpse album, to his 2006 sample-fuelled Denies The Day’s Demise, Daedelus has covered a huge amount of ground already in his career. His move to Ninja for 2008’s Love To Make Music By saw another sea change – a concerted application of house music tempos and instrumentation to his scattergun songwriting that resulted in the wonderful “Make It So” single and a brace of highly engaging hypnogogic mindfucks.
Bespoke picks up from those learned lessons, but this time he’s created an even wider scope for himself. Simply everything imaginable is contained within Bespoke. Operatic female vocals mixed with doo-wop? Yes, on the slow trip-hoppy “Penny Loafers”. Juke rhythms and Stereolab melodies? Sure thing, courtesy of the Milosh-vocalled single “Tailor Made”. Folky post-rock instrumentals? Why yes, on the gorgeous “Sew, Darn, Made”.
Variety suits Daedelus’ musical outlook. His distinctively choppy production style lends itself to having three or four competing styles going on at any one times, in the manner of Japanese Pico-Pop artists like Plus-Tech Squeeze Box. “What Can You Do” featuring Busdriver is a case in point – though underscored by a simple kick “n’ clap, the sheer crazed randomness of his drum sequences opens the space up to allow things like clarinets, acid-pianos and torch song vocals to actually sound normal working together.
The downtempo material is delivered in a slightly more conventional manner however. Allowing the vocals to shine though the murky, pitched-down beats of “In Tatters” for example or letting simple filter-curves dominate the excellent Fly Lo funk of “Slowercase D” means the album doesn’t suffer from being too hyperactive for its own good. Yet it has to be said that it’s that side of Daedelus that makes Bespoke memorable – who else would match Bilal’s vocals with a garage rock-meets-dubstep beat as he does on the album’s highlight, “Overwhelmed”? The mythological Daedelus was well aware of the dangers of flying too close to the sun. As Bespoke proves, the real life version should never be subject to any such constraints.