Reviewer – Tom Belshaw.
Daedelus, Daedelus, Daedelus. Where to begin? I’ve harped on about Alfred Darlington’s work for nigh on six years now, much to the dismay of many a friend, acquaintance and very recently, the man himself. ”Harp, harp, harp… Avant garde” I would say in polite company. ”Harp, harp, harp… Sweaty Victorian gentleman” I would scream when seeing him live.
I would continue to harp through all manner of trial and adversity.
There was the time I changed my ex-girlfriends alarm tone to the intro from ‘Just Briefly’ and was literally backed into a corner by her barbituated siblings to be informed, with unwarranted aggression, that it was “shit”. I still continued harping. It’s not shit, by the way.
Or the time I was bamboozled into leaving the comfort of one of Nottingham’s finest, hotel grade, 100% goose down duvets under the proviso that Daedelus had wandered into a friend’s house party from a nearby gig. He wasn’t there. My friends found it hilarious and I’m still sore about it, but I still carried on harping.
Yeah well, who’s harping now? Now that Ninja Tune are releasing Daedelus’ latest album Bespoke in April? Well, technically it’s still me, but come the 11th of said month everyone will be harping to the same tune. This release marks around ten years of niche carving for the disco dandy and feels like his most solid body of work to date.
The often chaotic rumblings that many have come to love are still ever-present, but have been watered down substantially by some of the great melodies and solid beats on display elsewhere on the LP. ’In Tatters’ plays like the death rattle of a mid-nineties girl band. With tortured vocals, a wonderful combination of major and diminished chord swells and a backnote that sounds like the mating call of a NES, it conjours up that lovely feeling I’ve coined as ‘happy-cidal’.
There’s gangster barbershop quartet anthem ‘Penny Loafers’, which sounds like the Andrews sisters started slinging crack under ‘that’ apple tree. Or ‘French Cuffs’ featuring Low End Theory regular Baths, which has its vocal track, melody and drums set at different speeds. Actually that’s probably a bad example. Perhaps ‘Sew, Darn, Mend’, which sounds somewhat like a folk montage. Like John Boy getting severely tonk in preparation to do whatever it is they’d do on The Little House On The Prairie that would require one to be a particularly hench Mormon.
The theme of the entire album is whatever pops into Darlington’s mind, as has been in the past and most likely will be in the future. This is very much the realm of Daedelus and that’s what makes it so special. The man has so many influences that when you stumble upon one you share, it becomes worthy of a good harping.
Come to think of it, ‘fustigate’ is a much better word than ‘harp’.