Daedelus - Bespoke Album Review
Daedelus's main point of attraction is also his main point of detraction; his unrestrained experimentation and excess, and refusal to stand still for a single second. His back catalogue consists of scores of albums, EPs and singles scattered across countless labels, none of which settle on a specific sound or place their feet firmly inside any particular genre.
As a previous resident of Warp, Stones Throw and Brainfeeder amongst others a catch-all tag of 'electronica' is probably loosely suitable, but this does a great disservice to an artist who has done as much as any to shake off any stereotypes and avoid the usual journalistic cliches, and one who has, with latest release 'Bespoke', released his most consistent album to date.
Of course, this consistency concerns the quality of the album and not the overall palette of sound. On 'Bespoke' Daedelus is as summary-defying as ever, but he hits the right spot much more than on the majority of his previous releases. 'Tailor-Made' and 'Penny Loafers' are irresistible slabs of future jazz built with old-school house vibes that have a cosy aura without coming close to the coffee table, whilst album centrepiece 'Suit Yourself' offers a re-imagination of the Ridge Racer Type 4 soundtrack in the mould of Jaga Jazzist or The Cinematic Orchestra, a triumphant if overly simple horn sample deconstructed and reconstructed and deconstructed again.
The choice and variety of vocalists also adds a lot to the album. Long, and unjustly, forgotten Dr Dre collaborator Bilal's aching sighs are the eye to 'Overwhelmed's percussive maelstrom, repeating as Daedelus's beats and samples fracture outwards, whilst Inara George lulls add to the woozy, laid-back funk of the aforementioned 'Penny Loafers' without sending it to sleep.
There is an inherent clumsiness across most of 'Bespoke' that never drifts into messiness but does at times affect the flow of it, particularly on the couplet of 'What Can You Do?' and 'French Cuffs', which lose the focus of the triumphant 'Suit Yourself' and preceding tracks.
You feel there could be a genre-defining, all-time classic in Daedelus, whatever genre he chooses, but his ADHD & ambition prevent this and leave the majority of his work, including his latest, sounding more like compilations. Still, 'Bespoke' is an album of very high quality and one that should be celebrated for its invention.