Flying Lotus‘ up-and-coming label Brainfeeder has already showcased some of the most adventurous beat merchants like The Gaslamp Killer (he of All Killer: Finders Keepers Records 1-20 Mixed By The Gaslamp Killer, Ras G (as in Ras G And The Afrikan Space Program) and Samiyam (aka Sam Baker and 50% of the FLYamSAM with Flying Lotus himself). Now such a line-up wouldn’t be complete with out the genius of early 19th century decadence; yep, it’s our favourite electro-alchemist, Daedelus.
And for the first proper release, Daedelus (also known as Alfred Darling) has concocted what he imagines as a soundtrack to the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxer Rebellion! Yeah it was the time of the Boxer Uprising in China between 1898 and 1901. The locals had had enough of British/Japanese imperialism and fought under the flag of the “Righteous Fists of Harmony”.
On first listen (and unsurprisingly) Righteous Fists Of Harmony suite is somewhat a sombre affair. None of the usual Daedelus musical quips are present here as the opening track, ‘An Armada Approaches’ sets up the tension for the forthcoming killing fields of slaughter. As an aside for a moment, reviewing a masterpiece on a packed train, sitting in the lotus position between the lavvy and the dirty back wheel of a mountain bike you might not think is ideal; but the discomfort is apt -like early Human League without the fun; ‘An Armada Approaches’ is the most Daedelus of soup where strings meet basslines from Youth and subtle clarinet interludes; this is nu-IDM and builds to ideal train-spotter music. It’s only 6 minutes long but could be, with a bit of software magic, extended to an ‘Autobahn’ length mix I’m sure.
An with that in mind, at the other end of the CD, ‘Fin De Si?®cle’ is the cinematic outro of 50s film a la some of Exquisite Corpse (think Rebecca or more “Cecila, you’re not leaving me” stuff).
There’s a brief touch of Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence in ‘The Open Hand Avows’ (isn’t that a Tai Chi move?) but the sub plot of the Long Lost (the quasi samba project with Mrs Darling – see review HERE) turns up as ‘Order Of The Garden Dawn’. This is by far the most accessible of the set as Laura’s excellent voice matches the mood set by Alfred.
‘Succumbing To’ features Kid A is that bit more experimental whilst ‘Stampede Me’ seems most haunting like the smell of death with the representation of gunfire al a WW1 from the trenches (could have worked so well on the last episode of Blackadder – different war but same idiot waste of flesh and blood.
What this has to do with Boxers? Well don’t be lulled into a state of tranquillity as the march across the battlefield is ‘Finishing Of A Thing’ that ends in a military climax.
As Alfred Weisberg-Roberts is of (very) distant Welsh decent, you won’t be surprised that the Royal Welch Fusiliers distinguished themselves in battle in Peking (Beijing) and Daedelus has distinguished himself on Righteous Fists Of Harmony. Daedelus fans will love this of course as this his most complete concept piece yet and well worth the wait since the split Daedelus/Jogger Friends of Friends Vol. 1 last year. And the next Daedelus album on Ninja Tune is entitled Bespoke that’s due out in late 2010 or 2011.
Well done to the Brainfeeder crew for releasing the EP and it was only a couple of weeks ago they dragged their entourage to London for the Red Bull Music Academy bash (or should that be Basho) at Fabric, see HERE). Flying Lotus will be back in the country at Bestival at the end of the summer and after Daedelus appeared at SXSW last week, it’s back to Europe after the LA launch party (see tour dates below).
Back to the history, the red jackets of Queen Victoria troops found the Boxers terrifying with their martial artist training but with the advantage of the most advanced firepower of the day, 100,000 Boxers paid the ultimate sacrifice in battle and lost. The “victory” was short lived though as the next uprising was soon to come, aka the Chinese Revolution. Funny how things change as only this very morning I was part of a group that entertained 20 odd swimmers visiting the UK from the China Winter Swimming Association. Once the hand of sporting friendship was shook, there was a BBQ and at the same time the first surf competition was being held on the new artificial reef. Anglo-Chinese relations in harmony and is the South Coast the new West Coast? All a bit surreal really; tidal waves uprising or an armada approaches? Fin de siecle.
Reviewed: Daedelus – Righteous Fists Of Harmony EP (Brainfeeder) Cat. No. BFCD006 Release date: 22nd March 2010
All compositions and performances by Daedelus except: ‘Tidal Waves’ (Drums by Pete Curry), ‘The Open Hand Avows’ (additional Drums by Pete Curry), ‘Order Of The Golden Dawn’ (flute and vocals by Laura Darlington, guitar and violin by Amir Yaghmai, drums by Pete Curry), ‘Succumbing To’ (vocals by Kid A), ‘Stampede Me’ (additional Vocals by Amir Yaghmai), mixed and mastered by Steve Kaye, artwork by Frohawk Two-Feathers.
1. An Armada Approaches (6:04)
2. Tidal Waves Uprising (1:30)
3. The Open Hand Avows (2:41)
4. Order Of The Golden Dawn (featuring Laura Darling) (4:17)
5. The Finishing of a Thing (1:40)
6. Succumbing To (featuring Kid A) (2:53)
7. Stampede Me (with Amir Yaghmai) (4:19)
8. Fin De Si?®cle (2:49)