Daedelus Fair Weather Friends [EP]

[Ninja Tune; 2007]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: cut & paste techno
Others: Four Tet, Caural, Tipsy, Coldcut

And now for something completely different: an EP of warping big bass dance music from a man who, until now, has stuck pretty closely to his cinematic trip-hop guns. Perhaps he got some good E recently and rediscovered his love of the groove, or maybe he just got sick of critics calling him cinematic in every single review. Either way, the long and the short of it is that Fair Weather Friends ain’t falling in no predicted catalog pigeonhole. Aside from a dusty vocal sample or two as a clue, an unknowing listener giving this the old Pepsi challenge wouldn't guess this is the work of Alfred Darlington in their first five tries. I’d put $20 on it. "Different" doesn’t necessarily translate to "better," though, as much as the effort is appreciated.

The struggle of stripping away baroque ambient samples to focus on the cold, beating, electronic heart beneath his style doesn't really work for most of the EP. Only “Hermitage” -- with its digitally mangled bass clarinet loops, speed-garage subbase, and filtered guitar snippet augmenting a cock tease four-to-the-floor beat -- adds up to a thoroughly inspiring and motivating track. Conversely, “My Beau” is a complete travesty undeserving of association with the legendary Ninja Tune name. A reworking of Ghost Town DJ’s “My Boo,” this piece of pop could easily pass for a Destiny’s Child or Atomic Kitten single, if its gnarly synth lead wasn’t as interesting, and therefore radio-unfriendly, as it manages to be.

I’m going to have to chalk Fair Weather Friends up as an evolution-in-progress, lest that adage be true. Can old dogs learn new tricks? Personally, I’m expecting a rebound, as I know Alfred has more than enough talent to make this new venture profitable. Either way, we gotta wait till the next full-length to see for sure.

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