Alfred Darlington (AKA Daedelus) has always been obsessed with history. His interest in past eras visibly inspires an eccentric stage presence, but he stresses that his style is not Edwardian. The fanciful coattails, formal vests, and top hats he so often is seen wearing onstage are actually influenced by early Victorian culture—pre-Prince Albert dandyism to be specific. That he named himself Daedelus, after the brilliant mythological inventor, shows a fascination both with antiquity and innovation, a dynamic that can easily be traced back to his music.
Trained in classical jazz, Darlington had a defining moment as a young teenager when he discovered rave music on a pirate radio station while traveling in London. Since that moment, Darlington's sound has meshed the past and the present; a dusty, forgotten film score from the '30s playing on a scratchy old turntable while lush, modern beats dreamily propel the music along, reflecting his roots in the distinct Los Angeles avant-hiphop scene.
While Daedelus cultivates a bygone aesthetic, his live show looks remarkably futuristic. The centerpiece of his performances is the Monome, a peculiar interface made up of a simple grid of many backlit, unmarked square buttons. The device looks incredibly minimal and operates on a theory of simplicity, but can be combined with open-source software for countless different electronic sounds and visual functionalities. Witnessing Darlington play the thing, it looks like he's just randomly wailing away on the buttons, but the sounds that he produces—though clearly improvised—are tightly sequenced and controlled.
Darlington's unusual blend of old-world energy and unconventional technology has caught the attention of plenty of other electronic music tastemakers. He's collaborated with Madlib, Busdriver, and Taz from Sa-Ra, and landed record deals with some highly respected experimental labels including Mush and Plug Research.
Daedelus' latest full-length album Love to Make Music To was released by London label Ninja Tune. It displays all of the nostalgic delicacy that Daedelus is known for, but also returns to the original inspiration of the '90s underground dance music he heard as a teenager. As a musician, Darlington has crafted an aesthetic that is entirely his own—a compelling mix of old and new, classic and current, aged sophistication and modern-day bump.