The Newark, N.J.-based alternative hip-hop group Dalek has made a career out of defying expectations of what rap music should—or should not—sound like. On record, the band has managed to meld such disparate influences as Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine and Jesu to create a sound that remarkably coheres into something all its own. There is a sense that group members truly love all forms of underground music, and it comes across on their albums. With the horrors of the unholy late- 1990s “rap-rock” phenomenon quickly dissolving from our collective cultural memory, Dalek allows us to fully see the artistic benefits of indiscriminate genre-hopping.
Yet the act of reproducing recorded rap tracks in a live setting is a skill that has eluded even some of the most gifted performers, and judging from its recent Cactus Club performance, even Dalek finds it difficult.