Daedelus continues his arc of general excellence this week with Labyrinths, his 17th studio effort. The Californian producer and multi-instrumentalist has maintained an impressive release schedule since his debut in 2002, debunking the myth that one must choose between quality and quantity. Labyrinths doesn't quite reach the heights of some of his more outstanding albums, but it remains an excellent addition to the producer's already rich catalogue.
Like much of his recent work, Labyrinths features both programming and live instrumentation (meshed effortlessly of course), a prevalence of guest vocalists and an allegiance to an overarching concept. This time, Daedelus mines the mythology of his namesake, alluding obliquely to figures and events surrounding the Greek inventor's iconic maze. Frankly, the concept here doesn't quite feel fully realized, expressing itself mostly through song titles and the album's cover art as opposed to the music itself, but Daedelus has earned enough goodwill over the years to be forgiven this bit of whimsy.
Plus, the music is as good as ever. Daedelus exerts his masterful production skills as per usual, while the guest vocalists lend the album a varied feel that allows him to bounce from folktronica to hip-hop to more experimental offerings with ease. And yet, it's the tracks without vocalists that are arguably the highlights here. The breakneck arpeggios of the title track sink deeper and deeper into an improvised digital vortex, the breezy jazz of "Special Re: Quest" and, especially, the nostalgic IDM of "A Maze Amazing" are strong reminders that Daedelus can easily stand alone when he wants to. (Magical Properties)