News & Features » News

SOUNDS IN THE DARK

by

comment

Dälek works in the shadows. Sputtering, shrieking beats simmer in a cauldron of dank, grimy textures whose intricacy recalls golden-age rap producers such as Prince Paul or Hank Shocklee and the Bomb Squad. It's a comparison the Newark, N.J., native welcomes.

"I'm all for retro sounds," says Dälek. "I think the current stuff misses the groove. I miss hearing a dirty drumbeat. Everything is so pristine. This isn't classical music."

Dälek met producer Oktopus – with whom he collaborates on the arrangements – at William Patterson University, and in 1998 they released Negro, Necro, Nekros on Gern Blandsten. The raw sound and throttling, primitive beats made an immediate impression and drew critical raves. The style, Dälek says, was partially inspired by "My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. After hearing that, it completely changed my perception of music in general, what you can do in a studio, and what's considered a good mix."

The fact that Dälek's lyrics are often buried in the dark, anxious mix contributes to the distinctiveness of his sound.

"I just want the lyrics to be part of a song, rather than how most hip-hop records' lyrics … are so over the top and loud in the mix. I never want to do that, for aesthetics and because I don't have an ego like that," he says. "Absence `the latest album` was our first attempt to find some balance, and actually bringing them out some more, making the lyrics a little more accessible, but still keeping that wall-of-sound atmosphere."

Since he was a child, Dälek has immersed himself in hip-hop culture, which hardly limits his appreciation of other genres. Digging through the record crates as an MC back in the day, it was all about finding new music. "The whole thing was to find records with parts that no one else had played," he says.

Given the cold, hollow, atmospheric clang of some of his beats, it's not surprising Dälek is a big fan of seminal Krautrockers Faust. Apparently the band heard Dälek's shout-out on "Classical Homicide" ("How many MCs know who Faust is?"), and invited him to Germany to record 2004's Derbe Respect, Alder with them. The music legends offered words of encouragement.

"`Keyboardist Hans` Joachim `Irmler` grabbed me and said, 'You guys are amazing. You're just like us.' I'm like, 'Wow, thanks.' And he says 'Yes, you'll never make any money,'" Dälek says. "I was like, 'Can you please just stop the compliments now?' It's the whole artist thing – people will love this when I'm gone, which is cool. They'll be talking about the genius of Dälek.

"It'd be cool to be recognized someday. My kids will be, 'OK, maybe Dad wasn't such a sucker.'"

Dälek
with Meat Beat Manifesto

8 pm Monday, Feb. 20
The Social

music@orlandoweekly.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.