A different type of "magic box": Daedalus
The archetypal Greek inventor Daedalus and his modern-day namesake (real name Alfred Weisberg-Roberts) share a penchant for labyrinthine complexity: While the ancient Daedalus built the Labyrinth of Knossos to contain the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster, Santa Monica, Calif.-based producer Weisberg-Roberts is gaining a name in the independent music world for creating his own maze-like sonic structures.
Bridging the realms of IDM and hip hop, Daedalus' music also references arcana you'd need to dig deep into the crates for: exotica, Latin jazz, film soundtracks and Depression-era musicals. Quirky and childlike, a la Boards of Canada, yet almost as frenetic as Squarepusher, his dense collages grab the string orchestras and horn sections of past glories and collide them with a post-raver, 21st-century snip-and-cut sensibility.
Live, Daedalus' sampling prowess is aided by a "magic box." This on-the-fly sample triggering device and software package is a custom-built invention almost as unique as the wax wings Daedalus and his son Icarus made to escape King Minos of Crete -- or the adventurous contraptions of the Victorian era to which Weisberg-Roberts' box seems akin.
On record, his relentless release schedule on labels like Hefty, Tigerbeat6, Eastern Development and Mush has overwhelmed many a follower of smart, beat-oriented electronica. His Denies the Day's Demise reached No. 1 on college-radio electronic/dance charts earlier this year, placing Daedalus squarely at the forefront of Mush Records. This L.A.-based label has taken the lead in left-field electronica and abstract hip hop, and is fairly bursting with promising producers and emcees.
Two of those Mush protégés are traveling with Daedalus to round out a fantastic night of electronic music: Caural and Thavius Beck.
Caural, a Chicago artist who melds sound sources from both East and West, elaborates on a framework of tight beats, fashioning dense, organic, jazzy compositions that often incorporate a warm Rhodes piano. His second album, Mirrors for Eyes, is a super-strong effort that shouldn't be ignored by fans of Prefuse 73 or Four Tet. One track, "Sending You Colors," is pleasantly reminiscent of Dirty Projectors.
First but not least is nappy-haired, thick-bearded Thavius Beck, a programmer and multi-instrumentalist whose new Mush album is simply titled Thru. Touring with Saul Williams and collaborating with Subtitle, he's reaped praise in The Wire and Urb for previous work under the name Adlib. Letting loose an arsenal of unusual electronic gadgetry onstage, he surrounds the listener with an ominous, yet comfortably numbing swirl of space-age futurism -- like blasting off in a TARDIS packed with analog synths and dusty records. Mission accomplished.
Mush Records Tour featuring Daedalus, Caural and Thavius Beck, with Jack Wilson. 10 p.m. Thu., Oct. 26. Lava Lounge, 2204 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-5282