You would be hard pressed to find a DJ and producer more beloved in electronica than Alfred Darlington. Best known to the world as Daedelus, his performances as of late have been a dance-floor-sweaty melding of original productions and spot-on selector programming, all while decked out in Victorian garb and managing to make controlling sounds with a monome look cool. Bespoke captures the scrambled intensity of his live shows and incorporates a wealth of vocal talent in the process. “Tailor-Made” sounds as if you were dropped right in the middle of one of his sets with pounding 4/4 beats, swirling keyboard flourishes, and angelic vocals from Milosh over the top. “Sew, Darn, Mend” is a harpsichord-laden instrumental caught up in the hysteria of drum workouts from Alfred’s Uncle Pete (a.k.a. Pete Curry of Los Straitjackets). The sonic blueprint of a beautiful mess is written all over Bespoke, perhaps proven best on “Penny Loafers” as Inara George’s voice floats above mid-tempo percussion clashing with space age bachelor pad arrangements.
There is an innate instability to these songs that Daedelus thrives on, their arrangements so seemingly madcap that they sound as if they might crash and burn at any moment. “What Can You Do?” is demented house tied to the back of a break beat with the unpredictability of a bucking horse. Most vocalists might be thrown off and critically injured within the first 30 seconds, but not Busdriver, who not only holds on for dear life, but sings his heart out while doing so. “Overwhelmed” is straight up cacophonous, as Darlington gets it in with soul singer Bilal, who sounds more free and unbridled than he has in years. It’s the album’s most unlikely pairing, but just like everything else on Bespoke, somehow it works. That’s the genius of Daedelus: he continually meshes musical styles and artists together that shouldn’t work on paper, only to have your ears bewildered by the fact that the seemingly nonsensical is sonically pleasing.