- Daedelus is nothing if not frustrating. The dandyish Californian has found his genius in a mind-boggling range of different styles, proving that there need not be any demarcation between saccharine storybook strings, leftfield hip-hop, experimental electronics and romantic dream-folk duets with his muse wife Laura Darling. More often than not, though, his full-lengths have limped over the finish line, weighed down by a commitment to unbridled weirdness and heavy conceptualism, resulting in albums creaking with too many competing musical ideas.
An early supporter of hip-hop reconstructionist Flying Lotus prior to his Warp association, Daedelus has been inducted into the producer's Brainfeeder fold somewhat ironically for a project which sees him shed every trace of his alt hip-hop past. An album masquerading as an eight track EP, Righteous Fists of Harmony refers in name to the 19th century band of Boxer Rebellion resistance fighters, whose faith in their own supposed magical powers sealed their doomed fate. Thankfully, the melodrama of the concept contributes a somber tone that only serves to ground Daedelus' usual flights of fancy.
"An Amarda Approaches" begins as a march to the grave accompanied by analog synths before slowing to half time and mutating into a strange and dreamlike chorus of distorted guitars, oboes, strings and a beat so elongated that it disintegrates into thousands of powdery particles. Maintaining a time-distorted fever dream state, "The Open Hand Avows" hinges on a 78-at-33 beat, its parts moving like a huge and lumbering piece of machinery, pistons slowed to a crawl, punctuated by a labouring, gasping pressure valve.
"The Finishing of a Thing" is the EP's most literal take on the warfaring theme, with battle-ready synthetic horns and thudding drums building to a crescendo of noise and bloodshed. The dreamy folktronica of "Stampede Me" and the bossa-tinged "Order of the Golden Dawn" offer a melancholy coolness, while the sweetness of "Fin De Siecle" gradually becomes cloying, the romantic strings barely masking the disquiet caused by the arrangement shifting in and out of focus.
Simultaneously dreamlike and nightmarish, it's impossible to ascertain whether Righteous Fists of Harmony is a tribute to the romanticism of ill-advised idealism, or a critical lament for the misguided rebels. One thing is for sure, though: It's Daedelus at his most off-the-wall coherent.
I An Armada Approaches
II Tidal Waves Uprising
III The Open Hand Avows
IV Order Of The Golden Dawn feat. Laura Darling
V The Finishing Of A Thing
VI Succumbing To feat. Kid A
VII Stampede Me feat. Amir Yaghmai
VIII Fin De Siecle