In the Surrealist age of art, Surrealists played a game called Exquisite Corpse. The game consisted of passing around a drawing that everyone involved would contribute one part of the drawing. The final result looks something like this:
However, the possibilities of Exquisite Corpse extend beyond drawings. People use the game to make stories or poems. Computer graphics designers create designs based on this Surrealist technique. Musically, composers Virgil Thompson, John Cage, and Lou Harrison among others applied the technique by only writing one measure of the music and then passing it on. The more the merrier, right? Hip-hop artist Daedelus named his album after this game. Whether the artist applied this technique to the album is unknown, but it sure sounds like it.
The album Exquisite Corpse is some of the quirkiest music out there, taking the samples of Mr. Daedelus and feature artists including MF Doom, Prefuse 73, and Mike Ladd to make hip-hop music that explores nearly every realm of the musical world. The guest appearances come in different styles, tones, and even languages. Exquisite Corpse is a collage of, according to Rip and Burn, "Latin rhythms, Japanese pop, IDM, braindance, glitch, opera, instrumental hip hop, 1930s music hall and rap." I don't even know what half those genres mean, but the description just shows how many worlds this album touches. The album stutters, speeds up and slows down on end, and somehow, everything comes together at the end. The sampling of Daedelus is a bit sloppier than, say, DJ Shadow or Massive Attack, but the overall concept of each song is there. The most remarkable thing is the way he manages to jump from an electronica minimalist feel to a sudden, epic string section that sounds straight out of an old soundtrack.
A show of these multiple genres is showcased immediately in the song Impending Doom, featuring MF Doom. The song opens with a cheesy, Wizard of Oz-esque string section. Suddenly, a Latin drum feel enters. Scarily, this fits perfectly. MF Doom enters rapping, grooving excellently with the Latin feel. Underneath his rapping, little nuances occur in the string section, stopping and starting occasionally. The main vocal sample, other than Doom, is "I will be forgetting you, each day and every hour." This breaks up Doom's verses. The song is pretty short, just surpassing 2 minutes, but still, it is one of the standouts on the album, showcasing the ability of Daedelus to take different genres and blend them beautifully.
Conversely, the longest song on the album, The Crippled Hand, opens with a beautiful piano melody. An electronic high hat enters with an offbeat rhythm that hints at slowing down but picks up the tempo just as fast. As the high-hat becomes more complex, more electronic beeps come in, leaving the piano melody in the dust. Later, a different piano melody enters along with the vocals of Lara Darling. This section has an extremely jazzy feel. Her vocals are surprisingly low for a woman, but the vocals are somewhat just a mesh with the electronic greatness going on all around her. When she drops out, the electronic beat goes nuts. Tempos slide around, the feel changes from measure to measure, and accents appear on all sorts of strange beats. This jam out of Daedelus' samples continues for a long while, before the original piano melody enters, giving a sense of closure about the song. However, if one looks at the time in the song, there's over 1 and a half minutes left. The song repeats itself, going through the exact same format of the song originally. The song closes out with a guitar track playing something similar to the piano melody from the jazzy Lara Darling section.
Daedelus' album is ambitious, different, and quirky. However, all the genres and craziness fits together in a relaxing meld of hip-hop music. While it does not match the quality of the greats such as Shadow and Massive Attack, this young man is ambitious and shows that he can make himself an original and outstanding voice in hip-hop music.
The Crippled Hand