After a busy couple of years of touring, remixing and releasing singles and EPs with Brainfeeder, All City, Magical Properties (the Daedelus home-imprint), Alpha Pup, Warp and Stones Throw, Alfred Darlington aka Daedelus returns with his new full length album on Ninja Tune, ‘Bespoke’, a title summing up the unique and eccentric vision of a musical artist as obsessed with the clothing of the Victorian era as he is with the music of the future.
Bespoke is defined as “a term employed to mean an item custom-made to measure.” Darlington explains that “I not only intended it as a reflection of the LP itself, but also an outlook on life.” It’s Daedelus’ way of stating that it’s possible to grow and flourish as a musician without settling for the drab factory pre-sets of genre.
The album features vocal talent “from all around this current music mess” (as Darlington puts it). The wobble-bottomed ‘Overwhelmed’ features acclaimed soul singer Bilal. Inara George (of The Bird and The Bee) illuminates the woozy psychedelia of ‘Penny Loafers’ with nursery rhyme clarity. Kelela Mizanekristos adds an aching soulfulness to late night ambience on ‘In Tatters’, whilst the spooked steel drum and tabla montage of ‘French Cuffs’ provides the perfect atmosphere for Baths (aka Will Wiesenfeld). Sometime fast rapper Busdriver shows he can croon on the up-tempo latino-carnival-house of ‘What Can You Do?’ and Amir Yaghmai (appearing as Young Dad) offers clean and melancholy post-Mozza melody to the disturbed under-pinning of ‘One and Lonely’. In addition, Yaghmai also played guitar on much of the record, as Daedelus set about working more live instrumentation into his musical textures than ever before. Om’mas Keith of Sa Ra contributes keyboards to the space-symphonic ‘Suit Yourself’ and Alfred’s Uncle Pete (aka Pete Curry of surf band Los Straitjackets) played most of the drums.
Unsurprisingly, despite the excesses of a musical dandy, the switchback turns of a restless and inquiring mind, the sheer invention of the mad scientist, everything on ‘Bespoke’ fits perfectly, the work of a master tailor, for whom craftsmanship and quality is every bit as important, but no more important, than standing out from the crowd.