Retro-futuristic electronica
Daedelus - Live At Village Underground, London

History is a strange beast. The interpretation of the past and its re-appropriation for the present is an unwieldy science often at the mercy of the shifting whims of fashion. Few understand this better than Los Angeles’s Daedelus. With his name taking inspiration from Greek mythos, his Victorian Dandy fashion sense and reputation as pioneer in the use of cutting edge sequencing and lighting rigs, Daedelus has carefully curated an aesthetic for both his sound and image that is genre transcending and timeless. He comes to these shores rarely and tonight, those in the know are in for a special treat: Daedelus will showcase his unique brand of retro-futuristic electronica in a one-night-only performance at Shoreditch’s Village Underground.

The audience for tonight’s event is modest in size but this hardly seems to matter. The space for people to move freely produces a warm and relaxed ambience and there is an air of restive anticipation coupled with smug satisfaction from those present. It is only his second ever UK performance after all, and those in attendance are all too aware of the reported spectacle that is to come.

The atmosphere turns electric as Daedelus takes to the stage. Wearing a red and black 19th century dinner jacket and bathed in blue lights he begins by looping luxurious synthesized lines over a steady dub beat. It’s a gentle start but before long the speed and intensity builds upwards, ushering the crowd to move with gathering momentum. Like a centrifuge, he dials the velocity up until the beats and samples are oscillating at the limits of celerity and compulsion.

The visual spectacle is as consuming as the music. Backed by his dazzling ‘Archimedes’ rig (a diamond formation of pivoting mirrors), Daedelus cavorts with his sequencers, gyrating his body in robotic movements as he mixes. The overall aesthetic is one of a mad steampunk professor toying insanely with a warped spaceship console. It draws to mind visions of an acid house Doctor Who flying an out of control TARDIS and in that respect, there is a quintessential Englishness to the performance that belies the artist’s American heritage.

Musically, the story is the same. His depth of influence is unrivalled in its eclecticism, incorporating a staggeringly vast array of genres and eras. He veers from electro rave, through the grime of dubstep and into the heart of hip-hop with elements of jazz and everything else mixed in between. The rapid-fire samples are so finely crafted in amongst the heavily layered textures that most pass completely under the radar.

But despite the seeming chaos, Daedelus has everything under complete control. He moulds the sounds and works the audience expertly and by the end of the set the whole crowd are moving in unison. Where many before have strayed too far across the line of avant-garde experimentalism, Daedelus has taken everyone in the room on the journey with him. He has perfectly matched mass immediacy with rebellious individualism and appears as the crazy lost brother of 2ManyDJs, who could not be contained within their rigid pop structures and broke loose to furrow his own way.

The final flourish is exultant and at the close Daedelus appears genuinely moved and humbled by the adulation that is before him. As an artist whose work embraces a genre-rich patchwork of musical chronology, one cannot help feeling that history should reward this by recording him as one of the finest EDM performers of the early 21st century. At the very least the few who were at Village Underground on Friday will certainly attest to the historical significance of what they witnessed.

Words by Chris Wash
Photo by Matt Wash

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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