OUT-THERE HIP-HOP DANDY...
With dress sense straight from the 19th century, yet musical vision suited to more futuristic times, it's fair to say multi-faceted Los Angeles boardsmith Alfred 'Daedelus' Darlington is a hip-hop anomaly. Digging J Dilla and off-the-wall electro in equal measures, he's worked with MF Doom and Busdriver, while his cultural gaze has often fixed across the Atlantic. By his own admission, he's obsessed with early Victorian dandy garms and, reasonably randomly, Wales.
Latest album Love To Make Music To, his first on Ninja Tune internationally, is a rear-view-mirror-gazing product of British preoccupation. More specifically, a fond rememberance of teenage sonic epiphany: copping rave music on pirate radio while staying in a London YMCA.
"It was a major point in my musical life," he recalls. "I'd been used to things like the Bomb Squad, Public Enemy, really visceral music mixing a lot of styles, but this was new music that was mine. When I got to the UK, heard it in context, with MCs and in the mix, it changed everything."
Also inspired by 1980s Los Angeles electro-bass, the album's amorous title belies an emotional core stirred by recent occurences in Darlington's home city.
"A variety of things happened that really affected my life," he begins. "I had the chance to do a little touring with J Dilla. In LA, his legacy's very palpable. You can see it in the young producers, you can hear it still on the streets, that joy he brought. With his loss it's like we don't have any time for messing about. We've got to get to the subject fast."
For all the adventurous magic contained within Love To Make Music To, live is the arena to truly understand Darlington's chameleon crossbreed. Tools as mundane as decks or a laptop are pushed aside in favor of his prize equipment: a Monome box, an ingenious sampling contraption that, at a squint, resembles a console ripped from the control room in Thunderbirds. Perfect for wild improvisation, the machine caters for Darlington's fondness for skipping from hip-hop tempos to manic electro climaxes and almost anywhere else imaginable.