A Gent Agent
oming off of 2003’s lackluster Rethinking the Weather, Daedelus threw caution to the wind in 2004, dropping two albums and an EP. The first album, Of Snowdonia, was a wintry fantasy tour; A Gent Agent like the Meanwhile EP, is a frantic scramble through jungle jumbles and pulp comic noir.
On Agent, Daedelus seems to display that AC/DC knack for doing some very predictable things very well over a very long time with very little variation. The record kicks off at “Going Incognito” with glowering choirs, indecipherable raps and some winsome strings. The reggae hop and Woody Allen samples in “Cloak and Dagger” may keep many listeners from noticing the subtle beat shifting Daedelus runs them through; trying to decipher the bizarre and ominous samples in “The Now Silent Streets” may keep listeners from noticing anything at all.
“Turncoats in Tourniquets” jumps back into the red with a chopped-up sped-up diva wail poured into dumpy dub drums, ADD record scratches, 8-bit bloops and ragga rants (all in three and a half minutes!). “A.K.A. Also Known As” calms down again, mingling a bucketful of carnival noises with mournful strings and a thoughtful guitar. The bizarre motor-driven “Amscray” begins with the album’s strangest sample (“You want a little music? Sure you do. A little banishment music!”), possibly taken from the 1962 film Phaedra. It’s dusted in more mock-serious crooner vocals, raps cut up into half-syllables and the treacle strings Daedelus seems to love unconditionally. “Femme Fatale” insolently skips past whatever lingering concept of continuity the album has with flirting sighs over Latin beats.
“The Taste of Bitter Almonds” (supposedly what cyanide smells like) begins with a good old-fashioned “check it” and then jumps through a string of vocal samples, most held for just a moment. “Coming to Tell” locksteps over cavernous noises and a man saying “echo… echo” in an echoing voice; “The Third Degree” turns a tavern brawl into a minimalist hoedown. In a rare recognizable sample, “Desperate Measures” grafts part of “God Only Knows” over analog toms and a heartrending synth line that provides one of the album’s only emotional touchstones. The album closes out quickly with a foggy saxophone solo in “Escape Artist” and some jazzy piano rolls over filtered drum beats on “Freeze Frame Credits.”
Writing about Daedelus’ music is obviously at least as fun as listening to it, although no one should expect the sort of deep philosophy that has become common in sample production LPs in the eight years sinceEndtroducing and Songs of a Dead Dreamer. At worst, this is Kid 606 junior; at best, it’s a remarkably consistent streak of neon-bleached cliff notes for Professor DJ Spooky’s lectures. If in 2004 sampling and beatmaking are considered high art, Daedelus has thrown a urinal through the gallery’s front window.
Reviewed by: Erick Bieritz
Reviewed on: 2004-11-24