Daedelus - Live @ Mezzanine

I’ve been listening to Daedelus since my homie Slouch turned me on to his music back around 2004. That was around the time when Daedelus released his LP Invention which is still one of the most cherished records in my collection. I have heard his work develop and change even as electronic music itself develops and changes. He incorporates a lot of different sounds into his music, but he has a small ensemble of specific samples that regularly crop up: a bassoon, an old-timey piano slightly out of tune, a harp, accordion… Combined with advanced and at times almost hectic time signatures and tempos and you get Daedelus' signature sound. And while I have heard his music described as “grimy Victorian techno”, it ranges from something like that to downtempo to thoughtfully composed little solo pieces. And that’s just his recorded material. His live performance is a special thing in and of itself.

I’ve seen Daedelus live a number of times and had my mind blown by him before. So when I went to see him at Mezzanine, I had an expectation about what I was getting into. I made sure to get to the venue early: for shows like this I like to get all up in that action. His opener Spazzkid did a solid job getting the energy level up. He had a big smile on his face and his jubilant dancing was pretty fun to watch. It was the first time I had heard him, and his music gives me the same feeling as artists like Ryan Hemsworth and Wave Racer: feel good vibes that dip into Nintendo beats, Japanese singing and a sort of clean “happy trap”. I have heard this sound described as “Miami bass”. It’s light, fun, and dance-y.

Spazzkid having some fun with his controller

When Daedelus came on they fired up this big installation set up behind him. It was a series of equally sized square mirrors set up on a rigging that allowed them to pivot in several directions, sometimes in unison but mostly independently in various patterns. Daedelus told us the contraption is called “Archimedes” and that they mostly use it for festivals. What a treat to catch it on the stage of one of my favorite night clubs in San Francisco.

Mr. Darlington himself

Daedelus performs live with a lot of button pushing and finger drumming using a drum machine called a Monome, which interfaces into his lap top. It visually translates into a pretty hands-on performance. Once Daedelus begins his set he plays continuously. He does not stop, and often transitions into different tempos using clever tricks that I have trouble describing in words. There are a few electronic musicians out there whose live performances take you on a journey. Daedelus does this, and can be compared to some of my other favorites live performers: artists like Jon Hopkins, Shpongle, and Shlohmo. Sometimes entrancing, sometimes downtempo, sometimes heavy and almost trap, all the way up to “fast, spazzy, and crazy” as the artist described it to us prior to performing his encore (which used a splendid take on the amen break, if I might add). I found myself getting really hyped up at times, head-banging and karate chopping the air, and in between somehow almost still, looking inwardly, only to be slowly reeled back and lifted back up again.

I recognized a couple of fire remixed incorporated into the Daedelus set. He peppered his signature sound and sequencing into ‘Chimes’, ‘You & Me’, and I even caught some Danny Brown verses mixed in there.

By the end of the set I felt like I had received a deep tissue massage on my brain, which is appropriate as Daedelus’ new album is on the Brainfeeder label. The crowd was delighted and I along with the rest of them screamed and hollered while Daedelus, always the gentleman, bowed and smiled.


If you liked this blog entry, check out Jon Hopkins - Live @ Mezzanine