Live at Low End Theory

(Alpha Pup Records)

Release date: Jan 22, 2008

L.A.-based producer Daedelus's live show is a lot like Daft Punk's recent epic set, except, well...not. Instead of a giant pyramid, the L.A. producer performs on top of whatever rickety table the club has on hand. His lightshow is a custom-made Monome, a minimalist sample trigger box connected to his Powerbook which represents his Showtunes-era samples as lights whizzing across the unit's wood-paneled display. But on Live at Low End Theory, recorded in June at the well-known L.A. club night, his gauzy re-interpretations of his own work take on a whole new life as dance music just as critics and fans were writing him off as a niche commodity.

The Low End Theory club night at the Airliner in L.A. is a perfect place for Daedelus to throw down. Hip-hop and assorted electronic performers knock elbows to an audience of urbane and avant-garde types. Daedelus himself has always trodden this line by mixing his readily parsible concept (old records with glitch laid all-up-ons) with varied production stints in the underground hip-hop community. He even places himself outside of easy identifiers by performing in Edwardian coats, tails and ascots. There's no better way to identify yourself as a hyperbolic, rap-obsessed white man than to chill with Busdriver and Madlib while dressing like a dandy, right? But it's the added punch of heavy breakbeats on "Press Snooze" (using the sample from "Like Clockwork Springs" off Demise) that really shy away from his duality of old-time sample-monger and poor man's Prefuse.

Daedelus' live show shares elements of Prefuse 73's Preparations: this relentless stream of off-white noise, a dense heap of familiar, pleasing sounds with beguiling dance appeal. Even a Daedelus fan has to delve deep into this disc to get to points of familiarity, since none of the track names match the studio works that feature the old samples or compositions. Instead of the pristine "Something Bells" off 2004's Of Snowdonia, we have to deal with the shark-toothed dance beats of "Now's the Time", with the addition of a tinkly synth line from Denies dipping in and out of coherence. Come to think of it: Lucidity is a key to Daedelus's work, which at its low points seems like he's planning his next move with a bit of uncertainty and at its high points can't be forgotten without pointed effort.

Daedelus' heaped-upon layers of samples sometimes lack the direct impact he seems to strive for. His live show is a relentless assault of sampled and constructed melodies which evolve with toe-tapping, but not body-moving, spontaneity. His timeless eccentricity, his penchant for the coats-and-tails, certainly takes listeners out of the contemporary, incestuous interplay between electronic and hip-hop music. It's not that he can't host a damn good party or re-examine and brilliantly re-combine his work. Daedelus just seems more at home in the herky-jerky company of clockwork, steam-powered robots whose interstella exploits have as of yet only aspired to the levels of Jules Verne and Little Nemo. If you're an electro-romantic, you'll feel right at home.

Track Listing

  1. 1. Put a Spell
  2. 2. Cast a Wish
  3. 3. Press Snooze
  4. 4. Samba Grandly
  5. 5. Ready the End
  6. 6. Disco, Disco, Disco
  7. 7. Play It Again
  8. 8. Now's the Time
  9. 9. Say Yes
  10. 10. Arouse Suspicion
  11. 11. Break Some Hearts
  12. 12. Get the Door
  13. 13. Rest in Peace
  14. 14. Shake Vigorously
  15. 15. Hope for the Best