Prior to Friday night’s Magical Properties festivities, I ascended on Cleveland’s Happy Dog. For the uninitiated, the busting establishment is a gourmet buffet served on a (vegetarian) hotdog. It wasn’t until after watching the sets of Samo Sound Boy, Ryan Hemsworth, and label/tour founder Daedelus (né Alfred Darlington) that I realized the perfection of that culinary selection. Like the crazy concoctions that get loaded atop the hot dog (I chose vegan chili, sautéed onions, chocolate mole, and an egg), Daedelus and the talented newcomers took the basic elements of hip-hop, techno, and indie dance music and created something with much more power and flavor through layers of off-kilter combinations. Bon Appétit!
Historically, Daedelus’ Magic Properties showcases have featured young West Coast beat-smiths, including the likes of Teebs, Gaslamp Killer, Tokimonsta, and Nosaj Thing, but the current traveling roster diverts just slightly from that practice. The co-founder of Body High records, LA’s Samo Sound Boy kept the Beachland Ballroom’s spirits elevated with an expertly mixed assortment of tech, tech/house, nu-disco, and a pinch of SoCal melodic bass music. Unlike the laptop DJs that dominate the West Coast beats scene, SSB has stuck with his CDJs, enabling the DJ/producer to slowing mix between tracks while keeping the audience captivated with female a cappella samples.
Ryan Hemsworth attacks his controllers with a much less controlled energy. An energy that is actually capable of making a hipster dance…no disrespect to any of CoS‘ non-dancers. The hour-long set was a raucous collection of club sounds, ranging from electro-remixes of hip-hop favorites by Destiny’s Child, Drake and Lil Wayne, respites of melodic indie-pop and intense periods of testosterone driven dubstep and trap’s dominant triplet hi-hat rolls. Coming from digital generation, no genre was off limits — often filling the floor with a big room electro track only to push the tempo back underground with expletive-heavy rap verses. Hemsworth is certainly one artist worthy of attention as he makes the shift from club-ready remixer to producing his own original cuts.
SSB and Hemsworth served as proper support, but Deadelus is the unquestionable Chef de Cuisine of his own tours; even if he doesn’t elongate his own set times. Still equipped with his signature monome, very few touring producers perform with the same intensity and intricacy as Daedalus. Now aided with a new set of visuals courtesy of Timeboy from the experts at the Creator’s Project, a Daedelus live experience is never short of sensory stimulation. It’s easy to question how he uses the controller to manipulate the tracks; however, as soon as he works into his signature deconstructed grooves it really doesn’t matter–one’s brain is already too busy trying to piece together the broken hip-hop tracks and overlayed aural dissonance.
Watching Daedelus cue up tracks is similar to watching a mother’s face on Christmas morning. As he looks intently down at his computer, a massive smile grows across the producer’s face, knowing that he is about to gift the audience with distorted IDM mayhem. He may dress as a dandy, and have one of the most magnetic personalities in the industry, but Daedelus’ sets are not “nice”. Friday night had moments of danceability, there was even approximately three minutes of house spliced into the normal selection of obscure hip-hop and underground beat tracks, but generally these layered selections are simply meant to be felt. Like IDM producers Squarepusher and u-Ziq, Daedelus tests the boundaries of music and noise. And the transitions don’t always fall on the side of music.
To close his Cleveland performance, the SoCal beat-maestro created a cacophonic selection of aggressively-spliced avant-garde hip-hop samples. For those that can make it through the sonic explosion, the other side offers a cathartic, even psychedelic, experience. This rapid succession wards off unnecessary talking and wandering thoughts about the day; the beats surround you and keep you planted solely in that present experience. In an era where we’re burdened with “busy”, this is one coveted experience where that’s all cast aside.