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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
Daedelus
Exquisite Corpse
Mush Records

Rating: 7/10 ?


April 27, 2005
Criticize Daedelus for any number of reasons and I'll probably grant you at least a portion of your argument - the man's career has been frustratingly inconsistent - but you'd be hard-pressed to fault him for not having his own distinct style.

By now, his pre-WWII found sound samples have become his calling card, but he doesn't limit himself to shifting the pinch of Technicolor nostalgia. Syrupy strings and synths swoop in with complete disregard for us stoic, Keith Fullerton Whitman lovin' types, and crackly, less-is-more hip-hop beats kick it in the foreground.

When he's really on his A-game, his compositions take on a mildly unsettling quality via well-timed, sparingly-used glitch work; in the end, though, it's the melody that wins out, filling in the spaces in the beats and tugging at your every heart string without giving in and pandering. Daedelus' songs may have the emotional subtlety of a card that simply reads "I love you," but he gets away with such seemingly trite sentiments by scribbling his letters in pastel sidewalk chalk and signing his name with a backwards "E."

Exquisite Corpse does little to expand upon Daedelus' aesthetic; it does, however, explore the hip-hop direction that he's been moving towards in his collaborative work more thoroughly than any of his previous efforts. Even his production on The Weather didn't immerse itself this fully in hip-hop conventions, thanks to Busdriver's self-consciously obtuse delivery.

Though Exquisite Corpse takes Daedelus further down this road than he's gone before, it still feels as though he doesn't spend enough time digging beneath the surface. The songs draw most of their energy from the guest MCs and producers, leaving Daedelus' five solo cuts a bit dry. Aside from "Just Briefly" - which almost ventures into krautrock territory with its hypnotic guitars - Daedelus' production only serves to highlight his guests' offerings.

Fortunately, a number of the collaborations produce engaging results. Cyne spins rhymes like silk over jazzy Illmatic-style samples in "Drops;" Mike Ladd serves up his usual brand of intriguing spoken word over an uncharacteristically commandeering beat in "Welcome Home;" the typically annoying TTC drops sassy French verses in the almost-crunk-but-not-quite "Cadavre Exquis."

The most adventurous and intriguing team-up comes at the album's end: One AM Radio mastermind Hrishikesh Hirway closes the disc out with somber dignity, but only after we're treated to a series of skittering beatbox utterances alien to both his and Daedelus' other material.

Much of Exquisite Corpse is almost too easy to ignore or forget about, largely because Daedelus tones down his bold sonic personality to accommodate his cohorts. A more fluid give-and-take, or even a sense of competitive tension could have made it a more fulfilling album. In spite of these flaws, however, enough of the collaborations are arresting enough to remind us that Daedelus is capable of becoming the stuff of legends if he can ever truly bear down and zero in on different aspects of his broad-based, enchanting aesthetic.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

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