Daedelus @ The Village Underground
aaamusic | On 17, Apr 2012
London, 13th April
When US producer Daedelus last brought his Archimedes live AV show to London – last September at KOKO – it transpired to be the best electronic dance music (EDM) show I witnessed in 2011 (and I witnessed many, believe you me – too many). Hell, it was one of the best EDM shows I’ve ever witnessed. So, expectations were incredibly high for the return of Daedelus, his Victorian inspired get up (including dandy-esque sideboards), and his mechanical moving wall of mirrors.
Somehow, with all the time I seem to spend in East London, I had never managed to check out Village Underground, where tonight’s proceedings take place. I must say, it’s one of the most impressive spaces I’ve come across in a long time – essentially a club built within a single, expansive archway or tunnel, with plenty of room, impeccable sound, and a welcoming bar. Whereas KOKO felt like a concert, with a fairly soft crowd and adhering to regular, early show times, Village Underground allowed for a more energetic and loose atmosphere – and as a result, tonight felt more like an event. This is the kind of venue electronic music should always be enjoyed.
First up tonight is Ambassadeurs (a confusing moniker, considering Ambassadeurs is just one English DJ named Mark Dobson) with a live DJ set. His set of slow burning IDM and atmospheric bass music works very well in easing us into the night, but sadly the early set time means the venue is pretty much empty. Next up is American Taylor McFerrin, a producer and performer signed to FlyLo’s Brainfeeder, and one that I was particularly excited to see. His impressive one-man show saw him mixing, MCing, singing, playing keys, and beatboxing. Within his hiphop heavy IDM (which is amongst the more chilled output of the Brainfeeder roster), McFerrin flits between an rnb drawl and charismatic spoken word, offering beatboxed intros and interludes throughout. The highlights were his Brazilian inspired track (moody electronica laced with world music) and his beatbox-heavy mix of glitch-hop/dnb/rnb towards the end, which features every part of his one-man show at once. An exceptional set from an exceedingly promising young talent.
Throwing Snow (aka Ross Tones, MD of A Future Without) then emerges to play a two-part set. For the first half his generous one and half hours he does a simple DJ set of fairly low-key garage-y techno and bass, which is good but sounds a little flat after Taylor Mcferrin. Then for the second half he plays a wicked “live” set of heavier, glitchy-yet-subtle dubstep, more along the lines of Brainfeeder’s IDM (and therefore more appropriate).
And NOW for the main act of this evening: DAEDELUS! So, what changes has the Californian producer and Ninja Tune heavyweight Alfred Darlington made to his Archimedes set up, the AV show that features a wall of motorized mirrors, which and programmed to reflect light and images around the venue, onto the performer, and into the crowd, all in time with the music? First of all, the number and design of the actual mirrors has been altered. At KOKO Daedelus had three columns of mirrors behind him, while here he has one larger panel of them, titled to form a diamond shape (perhaps to make the show more transportable…). The other noticeable thing is their dynamism – the speed and angles at which they (mechanically) move has been enhanced (according to a recent Daedelus, they now move 600 times faster!).
The crowd is certainly more fluid and animated than last year’s crowd at KOKO, and Daedelus feeds off this energy – bopping and throwing around his arms with even more enthusiasm than his usual high-energy showmanship allows. In terms of music, he has moderated his dubstep-heavy sets to incorporate more smooth hiphop and eccentric samples – a little more in line with his actual productions. Now, while this makes for more interesting soundscapes, the problem (and it’s only a slight problem, really) is that the set just feels a tad lighter than KOKO. Sure, the glitches and breakdowns are still there, and his trademark rapid-fire mixing (using his dependable Monome box) is as electrifying and accurate as ever, but it just doesn’t sound quite as immense as last year’s show. But it was always going to be hard to top “the best thing I have ever seen”, as my girlfriend still says when referring to that KOKO set.
To round up the night, Kutmah (who also supported Daedelus at KOKO) takes to the stage for a set of his usual mix of glitch-hop and dubstep – and, as usual, it is blistering. Kutmah is just ever, ever so good at this DJing shiz. The ONLY good thing that ever came out his high profile deportation from the States to here (www.freekutmah.com) is that fact that us Londoners get to see a hell of a lot more of him on the club circuit.