Electronic beats people will either love or find strenuous to get through
Putting out variant studio albums each year since 2013, Alfred Darlington, known by their stage name Daedelus, keeps up this impressive streak by releasing their most experimental, raw-cut LP yet, What Wands Won’t Break, launched with Dome of Doom Records on May 8, 2020. Daedelus’ mythological namesake epitomizes themselves as an artist. Inspired by the skillfully wrought Labyrinth creator, Daedelus shapes his musical career as an electronic producer by entering the production maze with the intention of getting lost in their sound, only to discover they made it out by the end with a completed, stripped-back track.
While listening to this extensive 23-track LP, listeners will feel as if they are stuck in Daedelus’ Labyrinth itself, wavering in and out of rhythm as they follow the disorienting, unconventional flow of noise from one track to the next. Daedelus gave people a sneak peek of the electronic intricacies behind this album in the pre-released single song “Sunflower Stems,” which feels as if one is making their way through the levels of an upbeat, funky video game; similarly reflected in their music video, people really delve deeper into Daedelus’ artistic vision for the album, understanding the true raw nature of their sounds and how it falls into a whole as a futuristic image.
Between the eccentric drum patterns in “Clairaudience” and the unbalanced kicks and snares presented in tracks, such as “Glint,” featuring Dome of Doom founder himself, Wylie Cable. It’s clear that What Wands Won’t Break derives from an experimental source, as it is very different from anything Daedelus has created before. They take their main source of inspiration from jam sessions with the well-respected American producer, Ras G, who passed away last year at the age of 40.
In the announcement of the album with Dome of Doom, Daedelus revealed more about the inspiration behind the project, stating they borrowed ideas from Tricia Rose’s book Black Noise, a comprehensive look at rap music and black culture in contemporary America released in 1994. “Every time we’d play, Ras would push each fader and every knob to the max even before hitting a 404 pad,” Darlington said. “He’d say it was ‘how it needed to sound.’”
If “how it needed to sound” was loud, then Daedelus achieved just that. However, by turning up each knob to the max in attempting to “[push] Ableton to the edge,” as described on the album’s Bandcamp page , it takes away from the raw creation of noise, instead presenting itself as a more unhinged mix of over-the-top, magnified and saturated layering, which could come off as strenuous to the ears of some listeners.
Although this album alone lacks melody, there is a clear rhythmic consistency in each track that represents its own version of organized chaos, as Daedelus experiments with distorting audio signals and enhancing raw baselines. In this LP, listeners will find tracks that strongly reflect Darlington’s goal of achieving electronic madness through noise, such as on “Zenith.” And then there’s track 17, “Henosis,” which sounds similar to as if one is listening to a fast-forwarded version of an electronic tape. The last song on the track “Yew and Me,” sends listeners through technotic entrancement as they decode the lyrical fragments eventually getting the overall message, “In love with you.”
Each track brings a different texture to the album and compels listeners to dive into a specific place in time as they experience the bursting boosts of bass, such as in “Noble Metal,” one of the more clean-cut, rhythmic tracks on the album. It surprisingly could play as a hip-hop beat, but the next track “Datura” will surprise listeners again–”Like the rest of the album it booms and cracks; ponderously at times, preposterously in others. I hope it rings you like a bell!” said Daedelus himself in his social media posts.
Daedelus took inspiration from several unique sources in the production of this record, with the goal of creating something that involved great transformation, of going against the general concept of musical structure by cutting out the typical rules of production. Through this process, Daedelus’ was able to create their most raw, stripped back and experimentally loudest album yet.