One of those musicians who everyone knows but no one owns a record from, Daedelus has been bouncing around the music scene, lending his talents to a variety of musicians. Most famous for his collaborations with One AM Radio and Prefuse 73 and his full-length team up with Busdriver and Radioinactive on The Weather, his solo records (including the love-it-or-hate-it remix of the latter album, Rethinking the Weather) have gone relatively unnoticed. But the Los Angeles-based artist has finally fulfilled his promise on Exquisite Corpse.
Taking the soon-to-be-employed ethos of the social-butterfly extraordinaire Scott Herren, Daedelus teams up with some really talented folks on most of the tracks. Not as far reaching as the upcoming Prefuse record, Exquisite Corpse includes MF Doom, Hrishikesh Hirway of One AM Radio, Sci from Scienz of Life, and Mike Ladd. And, yes, Mr. 73 makes an appearance as well: "Welcome Home," one of the album's best tracks, recalls Herren's recent work as Savath and Savalas, only with the Daedelus touch.
That Daedelus touch mostly consists of live instrumentation and some of the strangest and most unexpected samples stuck in the middle of hip-hop beats. Think early hip-hop, old children's records, '40s jazz cum '50s lounge music, and orchestral cut-ups. The solo pieces interspersed between collaborations are more than skits or interludes; they are strong compositions on their own, like the jazzy hiccup-noir stairway of "Just Briefly." Or "Crippled Hand," the longest track at six-and-a-half constantly evolving minutes that encapsulate numerous styles. It rolls as if the listener were riding on a train, weaving in and out of the warmth of human contact.
But the best tracks are the duos, and there's a new favorite every listen. Maybe it's the underground-beat-poet/overground-lounge-crooning Mike Ladd appearance on "Welcome Home"; often it's the closing, indescribably beautiful folktronica piece "Thanatopsis" with Hirway. But the Doom appearance does not disappoint (does it ever?) and the presence of above average French act TTC on the title track (in French, that is) is much welcomed.
The album title comes from a Surrealist game in which people get together and pass around a single piece of paper, each person writing one sentence before passing it to the next. The idea is to create a cohesive work of art through the collective unconscious of a group. The metaphor is an apt one for a work this dreamlike, but the Surrealist movement is far too brutish and cocky for a work this intentionally gentle and unassuming.
Exquisite Corpse will not change the world, and it doesn't want to upset your dominant paradigm. Instead, it succeeds at slowly getting under your skin and striking each specific emotional beat. It's more than the great late-night listen you can easily get out of it, but it is such a welcoming experience that Daedelus doesn't seem to mind what you do with his work. It's as if he has just written down the best sentence he ever wrote in his life, but instead of jumping up and down and shouting it from the rooftop, he slowly folds the paper down and passes it on to you.
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