1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago, and Vikings — basically a convergence of things I take geeky historical pleasure in. Reproduced from Stanley Applebaum’s The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, p. 51.  Snagged by Karla Kaulfuss, via Flickr.

Daedelus remains one of my favorite electronic music personalities. A virtuoso of his hand-built Monome (the early prototype) dressed in Victorian garb, he always manages to exude charisma in his music. And sure enough, as opposed to the usually bland, generic, and hideous emails I get in my inbox about artists (my eyes ache the moment they see a press release), I get two gifts.


First, a free MP3 from the upcoming Love to Make Music To, his first full-length album to go on Ninja Tune:

MP3: Make It So ft. Michael Johnson (XXX-Change Remix)

(Uh, if I happen to overload Terrorbird’s bandwidth with that link, let me know and I’ll fix it.)

+ Stories

And then, we get this fanciful, Jules Verne-esque (ahem, fictional) story of an inventor who, through magical electrocution.

It’s all too beautiful. Let me share the whole result, for two reasons:

1. If ever you’ve wondered how to speak to the press, do it like this. Please? (And press, get your Edwardian and your Victorian straight. Jeez.)

2. Every detail makes me smile. (World’s Fair? Electro-acoustic album with your wife? Did you write this for me personally?)

Hmmm… nope, rest of my inbox is still the usual drivel. I’ll just read this a second time.

1893. Chicago. The World’s Fair to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of America opens. In the entourage of one Nikola Tesla, the renegade pioneer of modern electricity, travels Alfred Darlington, a young inventor from Los Angeles.

On only the second day of the fair, Darlington is electrocuted in a terrible accident, pronounced dead and taken to the morgue. Two days later, an attendant there hears knocking from one of the drawers where the corpses are kept. Armed with a shotgun and whiskey he opens the drawer to find the young Alfred not only alive and well but babbling about a future worlds he has visited and asking that everyone now calls him "DAEDELUS".

Tesla, both relieved that the boy has survived and embarrassed by the accident, allows him the run of his workshops. Over the next six months of the Fair, he devotes his time to building strange electronic instruments and on the very last night of the Fair presents the Love To Make Music To Symphony, which, he claims, is the sound he heard in the future.

The events of the performance are shrouded in secrecy – widely believed to be a result of a cover-up by government and the vested commercial interests who had most to gain from the Fair’s success. The few reports which have filtered out say that people go mad as they listen to the strange, alien sounds the young composer describes as "music", that they scream, laugh, pull off their clothes, have sex with each other and themselves, fall into reveries and shout of "the hills, the beautiful hills". Daedelus himself is dragged from the stage and detained indefinitely in a mental hospital in Chicago and stays there until his mysterious disappearance on May 29th 1913, incidentally the night of the riots in Paris at the first performance of Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring.

But for another twist the story would have ended there. However, Dr John Thompsock of the Chicago Ultra-Arts & Science-head Institute and one of the greatest living Tesla-ologists is lucky enough to obtain a cache of Tesla’s papers from a shadowy Eastern European in 1999. In amongst them he finds a cylinder disk. On playing it, he discovers that it contains the only recording made of Daedelus’ first and last performance.

Digitized and cleaned of crackle, pops, and shorn of 45 minutes of detuned primitive oscillator noise, this is the performance which you are holding now. Or listening to. Almost as strange as the day it was first performed and as liable to bring on what we can only describe as "sexual fever". To ease you through – and hopefully hold the fever at bay – this version features commentary from a number of leading scientists including Om’mas Keith and Taz of the Sa-Ra Foundation, plus (Dr) Michael Johnson, (Prof) N’fa, Paperboy (Mphil), (Dr) Erika Rose and (Prof) Laura Darling (of the Long Lost Institute). Of more than academic interest, this should still appeal to all aficionado’s of Very Very Late Victorian Music.

This is Daedelus’ best and most playfully accessible album yet. A homage to early rave culture from the UK which he first heard in a YMCA whilst on holiday in London aged 15.

The main single will be "Make It So" which will come complete with video and remix by XXXchange (Spank Rock)

Daedelus has been remixed and played live with Madlib, and is in a live band with Taz from Sa-Ra (Eryka Badu producer and Kayne West henchman).

Album guests include grammy award winning rapper, Paperboy. Producer Michael Johnson, who has created records with the Lilys and Holopaw (subpop) among other groups, his own records have become something of a collector of modern psychedelic secret. Taz Arnold and Om’mas Keith come from the acclaimed and mysterious Sa-Ra (along with Shafiq Husayn). N’fa was part of the wildly successful 1200 Techniques (Australia) but then parted ways to continue his own path, has released and received accolades in Australia and USA. Erika Rose is a busy chanteuse who has an active music recording and releasing schedule

Daedelus has a romantic electro-acoustic record with his wife Laura Darling coming out later in 2008 under the name The Long Lost.

This is his first record worked solely in collaboration with Ninja Tune

He has had records out on Mush, Ninja Tune, Eastern Developments, Plug Research, Phthalo, Soul Jazz, Epitaph, Melodic, Full Time Hobby, Def Jux, Hefty, Tigerbeat6, Planet Mu + many more

Its important to note that Daedelus is influenced by the clothes and culture of early Victorian (pre Prince Albert Dandyism) culture, and not Edwardian as has been written in the past. His stage costume often consists of clothes from this period.

1.Fair Weather Friends
2.Make It So featuring Michael Johnson
3.Twist The Kids featuring N’fa
4.Get Off Your HiHats
6.Touchtone featuring Paperboy and Taz
7.I Car(ry) Us
8.I Took two
9.My Beau featuring Erika Rose and Paperboy
10.You’re The One featuring Om’mas Keith
11.Assembly Lines
12.Drummery Jam
13.Only For The Heartstrings
14.Bass In It featuring Taz
15.If We Should featuring Laura Darlington

  • Andrew Edahl

    Daedelus makes me smile.



    Heh. Real groovy. I loved the "Denies The Day's Demise" album, thought it was a masterpiece.

  • Jakob

    Oh Oh Oh OH Yeah!

    A months worth of stress is lifting off my shoulders and I swirl weightless into the.. roof of my office 😀

    Thank you for this week's most uplifting new experience.

  • bliss

    Daedelus = steampunk? 😉

  • richard

    sa ra is NOT sun ra

  • @richard: Ha. Okay. I was tired, obviously.

  • eerms

    very fucking beautiful story 🙂

  • I don't know why, but it seems like the Chicago Columbian Exposition has gotten hip these days. Or, you know, hip for a historical event. I've seen a good many references to it recently. Anyhow for someone who reads little nonfiction and even less from the history section, I found Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City a thoroughly enjoyable read about the Exposition, if anyone else cares to jump on this hip, historical bandwagon. 😉

    As for the press release, I've done this kind of thing myself, but I've always been afraid others will find it too "precious" or "not to the point." Ah well, I guess you can't please everyone.

  • Chris Hahn

    Daedelus seems like he's really down to earth. Over on the Monome board, he offered to meet up with people after a show and talk about Monome stuff and share techniques and such. Anyone checked out his Live at Low End Theory album from a couple of months ago? it's pretty sweet. I love that track "Play It Again" which is like this saloon piano piece over a House beat. So awesome.

  • @Evan: I think The Devil in the White City is the reason for the new-found awareness. (I've long been an expo nerd, but that's just me.) Fantastic book, fantastic read.

  • Ray

    I played with Daedelus a while back in Leeds, UK. Like Chris says above, he was an absolute gent and really down to earth! He's got some mad Monome skills as well, played it like an instrument. I think he's one of the best electronic musicians around at the moment. Ace stuff.

  • I can second the "The Devil in the White City" recommendation. A facination book, but not for the faint of heart…

  • Me spell bad in mornig before coffee, sorry, but I guess my point is clear anyhoo!

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  • The Man Who Patented the 20th Century

    The Nikola Tesla Inventor's Club is a non-profit organization of

    American and Serbian-American inventors who works on promoting the

    life, legacy and work of Nikola Tesla.

    Among Tesla's many inventions, he had plans for unlimited energy and

    was well ahead of his time.

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    In the same way that our oceans are abundant in gold, the air contains

    enough energy to make electricity the type of common resource that

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    Tesla's biggest obstacle in creating this vision was that no investor

    was willing to finance a project which wouldn't return profits.

    At our meetings, we discuss issues like the one briefly addressed

    above and we share our knowledge of Tesla, physics, energy,

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    Our meetings are held once per month at the Free Library of

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    look at http://www.ntesla.meetup.com/38/ for more information about our meetings.

    In addition to our meetings, we also organize monthly social

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    We are always looking to include more Tesla enthusiasts, inventors and

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    At http://www.ntesla.mettup.com/38/ you are able to suggest topics.

    We also are always looking for people with expertise in a certain

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    If you are a fan of Tesla, come out to a meeting. If you know someone

    who likes reading about Tesla's work, let them know about our group.

    Also, check out our website at http://www.nikolateslainventorsclub.com


    Nick Lonchar