Release Date: Aug 28, 2012
Record label: Domino
University-trained Baltimore composer Dan Deacon makes busy, bombastic electro-classical clatter. He's the EDM Aaron Copland, piling on marimbas, strings, blips, bonks, live percussion and operatic vocals on pieces like this LP's four-part suite, "USA." Yet the most enjoyable bits here are the least grandiose, like the zippy, pastoral "True Thrush." Listen to "True Thrush": .
In 2009, Dan Deacon released Bromst, an album notable for its dense wall-of-sound production, broad tempo changes, and oddball chord progressions. Now, three years later, many of those elements have once again been revived in Deacon’s latest effort, America. However, Deacon has also added quite a few new ideas to his music -- most notably a variety of orchestral instruments and a markedly higher level of maturity.
Dan Deacon has always been a fundamentally American artist, although the reason for that has perhaps shifted over the years. At the beginning of his musical career, Deacon’s America was the one cast the blueprint for postmodernism, the melting pot of cultures and traditions stewed together to create one odd compound function- America the land of the free, land where our blundered miswirings and social defects are proudly displayed as an act of pride. His references points were American, his crude humor was American, and his Horatio-Alger like grassroots audience-building was American.
Listening to a Dan Deacon record is like being set loose in a vault of every single toy you never got for Christmas. No other artist working today deserves this description. Dan Deacon is string lights glowing inside big rock candy mountains. Dan Deacon is childhood bliss unburdened. We call him ….
Fans of Dan Deacon's minimalism-gone-maximum electronic music were possibly puzzled when he stated that his latest opus would be his "protest album." The guy that once titled his songs "Woody Woodpecker" or "Lion With a Shark's Head" isn't generally too keen on remonstration. America's existence is not without precedence, though. Deacon's communal concerts—where he performs on the floor flanked by his devotees—portended his recent appearance as an instigator at a colossal Occupy Wall Street rally earlier this year in New York City's Union Square.
The Dan Deacon machine returns from Bromst-land (relatively) leaner, (relatively) focused and (absolutely) teeming with sound. Deacon is an expert not only of braiding together disparate rhythms, but of constructing them out of a thousand chipped-and-reassembled notes, whether digital or acoustic; his pointillist thumps splatter light like a disco ball hung in a mirrored room. But when he’s at the top of his powers, as he is on “True Thrush,” a deep, heartbreaking longing emerges from under the weight of all those shifting grains, like a lost first tooth found in a bag of rice.
Dan DeaconAmerica[Domino; 2012]By FM Stringer; August 28, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThere’s a combination bar slash performance space under Baltimore’s rib cage, well-removed from the ridiculous shine of the Inner Harbor, Camden Yards’s regal shadow, and all the must-sees, but not so far away that you confuse where you are for somewhere else. If you find yourself there on a certain night, you’ll wander in on a crowd composed of smaller circles whooping their approval for the masked breakdancers in their nuclei, raising beers and voices as the acrobats land the last spins of their routines--probably one of many they’ll bust out that night. Around them you’ll see students from the local arts school, or from the reasonably well-known local medical school, professionals, burnouts, freegans, parents.
Though he's made a name for himself based on his irreverent and impossibly enthusiastic electro-pop, Dan Deacon shows off the more thoughtful side of his hectic composition style on the thoughtfully orchestrated America. Rather than the non-stop, sweat-fueled party atmosphere found on Spiderman of the Rings, the album continues the experimentations Deacon started on Bromst, working more and more with live instruments and exploring emotions outside of "party. " With a combination of electronic and orchestral elements, Deacon weaves together an album filled with hope and wistfulness, making America an altogether more subtle and nuanced effort than his previous work.
For years Deacon channelled the wonderstruck spirit of happy-hardcore techno through a deceptively humane brand of krautrock. The mastermind behind Baltimore’s Wham City scene – hipsterism’s most uncynical, pioneering incarnation – he’s been unjustly accused of posturing superficiality. But with his fourth album the innovator sets the record straight.
There's something about the phrase "electro-acoustic composer" that makes you want to beat arts festival programme-writers about the ears with a heavy piece of sound sculpture. But an electro-acoustic composer is what Dan Deacon is, for lack of a more immediate term. This guy from Baltimore in big owl glasses used to employ mostly electronic equipment for his experimental synthetic compositions that veered, occasionally, into dodgy comedy.
DAN DEACON plays Lee’s Palace November 9. See listing. Rating: NNNN The geography of America inspired Dan Deacon's aptly titled newest opus. Specifically, the quirky electronic musician drew from places in and around his hometown of Baltimore, but also landscapes he saw while crossing the country during his frequent bouts of touring.
Dan Deacon is a man who takes fun seriously - or at least he does fun with a whole lot of conviction. I mean, if you call your debut album Spiderman of the Rings you have to, don’t you? On second set Bromst he let everyone know that he was classically trained, but there was still a song based around looping a dog’s bark. Now, having taken part in Occupy Wall Street and releasing a concept album boldly entitled America, is Dan Deacon about to 'get serious'? Well if you clicked that link above you’ll know the answer is both yes and no.
“America” is not an easy word to digest. It can be framed in many ways and evoke many feelings. Patriotism, fear, passion, injustice, pride, home, separation, control, liberty, freedom, doubt—America can be used to make its countrymen feel tremendously guilty or warmly dignified. It is something worth attacking and defending.
As the career path of Dan Deacon progresses, it gets easier and easier to use words like “mature,” “serious,” and “orchestral. ” The days of 2006’s “Drinking Out of Cups” seem to be the product of an entirely different person, or perhaps just a recorded experiment from the teenage years of a newly minted composer. With his latest record, one has to wonder: Was Deacon just messing around with pop music while secretly writing string section parts for an album that encompasses an entire nation, or did he stumble upon classical songwriting while coming up with dayglo nonsense (“We’re talking paper forks now!”) to play on the news at six in the morning? With Bromst, critics and fans alike began to see that Deacon’s genius went beyond insane pop; and with America, those depths begin to be plumbed.
A title like America promises an ambition-- a sweeping take on life in these United States, or at least one man's personal panoramic view of same-- that people may not be expecting from Dan Deacon. And yeah, that's unfair. As carefully constructed as the work of any highbrow electronic savant you'd care to name, Deacon's music alone should clearly paint him as a smart dude, a thinker, and a craftsman.
My mother was a firm believer in Marian apparitions and went to great lengths to impart this belief upon my siblings and me. It was mostly salutary stuff: prayer, sacrifice, faith in Jesus Christ — the building blocks of every Catholic boy’s religious formation. But many of these apparitions had their dark side, too: dire predictions of political upheaval, religious persecution at the hands of foreign (communist) powers, and, of course, divine chastisement, the inevitable wrath of God that would cleanse the earth and start us back at year zero.
Dan Deacon’s palette has widened. His trademark battery of ostinato drums and ecstatic nitrogenated dwarf-voices is here accompanied by swooping orchestral motifs, horns, and shotgun blasts of sheer sawing noise. The listener must be prepared to scale several face-high walls of sound. These are thick, complex bombardments of glee and energy, peppered with Deacon’s usual idiosyncrasies.
American composer and musician Dan Deacon is a man for whom expressionism and ambition knows no bounds. Throughout his career, Deacon has carved out a reputation as something of a maverick, hard to pin down and even harder to categorize. Deacon’s music is a kaleidoscopic mix of frenetic electronica and pulverising sounds. It is a sometimes-awkward union of noise and pop constantly fighting against each other.
With Bromst, Dan Deacon achieved a near-perfect balance between introspective electro-acoustics and party-starting jams. It's no surprise, then, that his follow-up takes both elements of his eclectic sound further than ever before. Splitting the LP in two halves, side one follows in the footsteps of Bromst. Opener "Guilford Avenue Bridge" lays out plinking keyboards overtop pounding drums as the track builds into a chaotic mess.
It’s oddly fitting that Dan Deacon’s America comes out the same week that the Republican National Convention is held in Tampa Bay. It’s not that Deacon’s vision of his homeland is similar to the GOP’s Randian hellscape—though some of the album’s more epic orchestral moments wouldn’t sound totally out of place in a campaign video. It’s that both offer a radical vision of what America could be.