Like his mythological namesake, Daedelus â€“ otherwise known as Alfred Darlington â€“ is an inventor, a creator of sonic labyrinths combining sounds from an eclectic palette into an innovative genre all his own. With The Light Brigade, Daedelus returns to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder, a fitting home for the Los Angeles electronic pioneer. A successor to his 2009 Righteous Fists of Harmony (an EP inspired by the Boxer Rebellion), The Light Brigade recalls the Crimean war of 1853-56. The music was written and recorded before the recent troubles broke out in that region, a turn of events which lends an air of requiem to the album.
Opening with Until Artillery, an elegiac voice invokes the conflict as glorified in Lord Alfred Tennyson’s infamous poem, backed by electronic swells that build into a poignant climax, contrasting the simple melodies that are the distinction of the album. Lead single Onward is a haunting lament; layered, melancholy vocals provided by previous collaborator Young Dad wind their way through treated pianos and deep textures creating a mournful ballad of noise. In Shot and Shell, a cavalcade of fingerpicked guitars are embedded in warm synths, and closing track Country of Conquest is a heartbreaking string composition that recalls Shostakovich.
The Light Brigade is a musical interplay of light and dark, soft and heavy, beautiful and frightening. The ghosts of war reverberate into the present in this deeply moving meditation on mortality.