Dan Deacon: America
- Dan Deacon: American electronic muso, composer and nutbar. I feel like I gotta remind people of how silly Dan Deacon can be, all the pretentious baloney people are prepared to say about how important he is. Fair enough, he is less silly now than he has been in years. The echoes of him singing nonsense verses in electro-chipmunk voices above banging casiotone beats are, on his latest release, exactly that: echoes. On, I think it's his fifth, proper, big-person, commercially released album, America, you can hear, sneaking in amongst the beats on a track like True Thrush, distant, rodent-like voices warbling merrily in a vast choir: merry memories of the past. Right now, with a grandiose title like America, you might expect Dan's latest opus would have a little something for quite a load of people. What it has, for the first fifty percent of the record, is a lot for everyone who's been following him since 2007's breakout album Spiderman Of The Rings. That would be dance beats and lots of 'em in head-spinning succession. Mind-warping it is, too, when it comes to beats Dan likes his proggy epics. Compared to 2009's Bromst, the first record of his to do serious business in Australia, the complexity of the rhythms and the intensity of the textures is greater than ever. You can tell from opener Guilford Avenue Bridge that he's taken the trend, begun on Bromst of using live instruments and opened up an even greater world of variation and colour with them. All of that, by itself, is pretty enjoyable. The second half of is something substantially different. A single work titled USA and split in to four tracks, it puts you in touch with the classical composer part of Dan. That isn't just pretentious twaddle, he studied it at uni and has been maintaining a largely separate career in contemporary, classical composition, getting busy at Carnegie Hall and the like. USA brings together Dan's dance interests with the kind of classical music which it has most in common: minimalism. Starting with swelling strings and moving through crunching synthesiser noise into a trance-like epic, interspersed every now and then with tribal drums and pounding marimbas. A gentle string and percussion suite builds slowly back into the enormous synth crunch, made even more by a chorus of soaring voices, brass and just plain grandiosity. Full-on stuff. It reminds me of nothing so much as Sufjan Stevens last, insane offering, The Age Of Adz. For my money, however, Dan Deacon's America is much more approachable and just plain celebratory and enjoyable. That's funny because it's supposed to be based, at least in part, on Connor McCarthy's suicidally depressing post-apocalyptic novel The Road. I'm struggling with that and I will tell you, candidly, whatever people say about him, Dan Deacon is still a nutbar. I don't know what his fans, whoever they comprise, will think of America, but for my own part I gotta say, Dan really is one tasty and interesting nut.
- Chris Cobcroft.