Working under the Daedelus moniker, Alfred Darlington has been at the forefront of left-field electronic music through his avant-garde IDM explorations. Much like the creations of the mythical ancient Greek engineer and Darlington’s project namesake, Daedelus has been divulging in workings that are multifaceted and complex. While retaining an IDM heart, Darlington has been swiftly moving through downtempo electronic and hip-hop concepts. But he has also been known to extend to the outer reaches of jazz and drone. The extremely diverse discography that Daedelus has produced speaks to that fact, with The Bittereinders becoming its latest chapter.
The Bittereinders is the final part of a trilogy that started in 2010 with The Righteous Fists of Harmony EP. Exposing the downtempo soul of his work and further combining it with hip-hop and Latin influences, Daedelus produced an exquisite work of ethereal beauty. It features some of his strongest compositions in the hazy “Stampede Me” and the off-kilter “Order of the Golden Dawn”. The End of Empire returned in 2014 with The Light Brigade. Once more, the focus is on the chill, downtempo side of electronic music, with frequent collaborator Amir Yaghmai giving an excellent recital in the likes of “Onward” and “Tsars and Hussars”. But now that the finale has arrived, Daedelus makes a drastic change of perspective, plunging his sound in an abstracted abyss.
Instead of the laid back vibe of The Righteous Fists of Harmony and the elusive manifestations of The Light Brigade, Bittereinders kicks off in the dark drone domain, as the glacial synths of “Deep in Concentration” slowly unfold. Despite the bright quality of the sound, the ambiance is plunged in an infernal state achieving a harrowing quality. Various morphings take place after this fantastical introduction, with Daedelus constructing a subtle dreamscape. “Trifling” offers a respite from the dark introduction, with the playful touches granting an upbeat perspective to the interlude. Still, the darkness returns differently with Daedelus combining the obscure drone essence with piercing melodies that could provide the perfect soundtrack for Undertale, as the likes of “Sangoma” and “Anima” suggest.
Yet The Bittereinders also shows the more unforgiving face of Daedelus, with “Straatsaltilerie” bringing in the granular noise. Slowly moving components come together under a drone perspective, being modified to produce a sea of fuzz that becomes overwhelming. It is an essence that infects the subsequent tracks, with the IDM perspective of “Veldt” enhanced through the harsh noise injections, while this essence also bastardizes the ethereal sounds of “Du Sud”. At the same time, Daedelus has swapped the Latin influences of The Righteous Fists of Harmony and The Light Brigade for a distinct jazz element. That shines brightly in “The Irreconcilables” and “Sold As”, adding the final touches to The Bittereinders with this further layer of mystique and intrigue.