As one can imagine, guest lectures from Californian electronic producers who dress in Victorian garb is not a daily occurrence here at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Gigs in this Irish city by Californian electronic producers are equally close to the ground.
Hence, the intense local media focus on one Alfred Darlington, better known as Daedelus, regarding his mini-tour of Ireland. The man's lamb-chop sideburns have been a staple image in both regional and national newspapers for the last few weeks, the anticipation around the city and university morphing into something so pronounced that you could feel the interest tingling in that cold April air.
I guess Irish weather has quite a lot in common with the music of Daedelus, given that both are unpredictable and dramatic – sometimes calm, sometimes wild. Despite this similarity, Friday (April 11) saw sunshine all the way for the Limerick leg of the tour, following his annihilation of ClubHeadBangBang in Kerry the night before.
Organised by the Music Technology Department along with local event promotors Kerrynini and Cheebah, the seminar took an informal approach in the same vein as the man's music: open, informal, inviting, all underpinned by a sense of chaotic genius. What was instantly apparent is the fact that Daedelus is truly a friendly chap, addressing the gathered students and beat-heads in a relaxed, modest manner, despite suffering from an acute case of jet-lag. Luckily, he's had his coffee. His accounts of his early explorations into digging were both fascinating and funny, relating how his competitive digging-buddies pushed him out of the funk and soul crates and into the altogether stranger world of childrens' recordings and soundtracks.
Add this to the fact that he was dipping into his bohemian parents' collection of rare musique concrete records by the likes of John Cage and composers such as Iannis Xenakis, and you start to understand the eccentric playground from which the Daedelus sound has developed. A kaleidoscope of wide ranging influences permeate his thoughts, words and music, whether it's crediting The Silver Apples as early techno pioneers or relaying the effect that early 90's rave stalwarts like The Prodigy had on him as a youth. It's all very hiphop, but the view is one from deep inside the wonderful rabbit-hole that Alice once fell down. Tracing the links between art and music, it's evident that Daedelus is someone who rises to the title of artist, meshing traditional performer ideologies with progressive technology and child-like innocence.
Given the fact that it was a music technology lecture, the monome became an object of much attention after an initial demonstration enchanted the assembled masses with its mesmerizing light patterns and hands-on approach to sample manipulation. The questions started flying and people wanted to test it (in hindsight, I wish I had the balls to try it out) – both of which were accommodated by the affable Alfred. Using a sequencer patch built in Max-MSP, the monome allows the performer to physically chop, reverse and distort the sample in whatever way the choose using the 256 buttons contained on the model interface. It's a sexy beast, enclosed in a nice wooden finish with all biodegradable materials, built by a husband and wife in Philadelphia. I instantly started to think of the quickest money-making schemes I could delve into in order to buy one. The haptic feedback and visual representation give the musician the ability to transform a lap-top based performance into something something far more visual, interactive and improvised. It's an instrument that Daedelus seems deeply respectful of, allowing him the freedom to slice breaks and strings in the most sublime ways.
Yet again, he killed it live that night in the Cornmarket Bar. Nirvana is spliced to bits, Aphex Twin gets distorted, John Barry scares people and even Willy Wonka pops his head in for a few seconds. Tracks like “Hrs Mins Secs” and “Fair Weather Friends” were greeted pleasantly by the dramatically increasing number of bodies on the dance floor. He paced his set well, winning the uninitiated over within the first twenty minutes, all while sporting the grandest of waistcoats and bow-ties. Things heated up fast-- there's cheering, clapping, dodgy rave hands and lots of sweat stains. An encore was unavoidable. He was gracious with the crowd, ever the noble gentleman with the hint of a hippy.
Sleep deprived and pushed for time, the digging spirit is alive and well in Alfred the next morning once the caffeine has been seized. His knowledge of 90's cheesy rave is intriguing, but then again he shows an all-round understanding of all the musical genres laying around the old second hand book store. He got the early Italo megamixes, but I found the Tetris.
Special thanks to Irish guest Amoeblogger Johnny Doobs for this report on Daedelus' lecture last Friday afternoon in the CSIS building of UL (University of Limerick) and at the Cornmarket Bar that night. To contact Mr Doobs, who lives in Limerick, Ireland, where he studies music theory, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.