Review : Dan Deacon - America
PitchforkA 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.
Then again, the music's immediate, bracing surface blare, and the joyful communal whomp of Deacon's live shows, offer something more visceral. It certainly feels, while it's happening, less head-scratch and more belly-laugh. Which gets confusing for swathes of his audience. Apparently certain folks still can't reconcile the "contradictions" of an egghead dance-party maniac with an affinity for both systems music and the get-stoopidest jams in history, a guy who'd lovingly deface the memory of Bobby Darin one minute and jump on the furrow-browed krautrock express the next....full text
GuardianThere'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. He has since moved into writing for orchestras, recently soundtracked a Francis Ford Coppola film (Twixt, 2011), and has now made a record – his eighth, all told – that seriously rocks. A study in hopeful euphoria, America also comes with that most highfalutin of things – an artist's statement, full of talk about "layering dichotomies". Don't let that put you off.
Envisioned as two halves, America is a full-on ecstatic romp with machines and "real" instruments through the American landscape. Uncannily, Guilford Avenue Bridge starts ever so faintly like a more avant-garde take on the Pistols' Anarchy in the UK, before taking a surprise detour into modal bluegrass. Then it fades into a fuzz-laden percussive workout that makes you want to punch the air with glee....full text
ConsequenceofsoundAs 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.
The biggest difference between Deacon’s new LP and his first forays into the public eye is that now he seemingly can’t be contained by traditional pop song structures. There were flashes of expansive meditation as far back as “Woody Woodpecker”, but then demand came for the dance floor show jams. On his second album, the instrumentation shift began with manipulated player piano washes and the like. But even then, it’d be difficult to be prepared for a four-part suite like “U.S.A.”. The tracks may be separated, but the seamless transitions and unified scope result in the most grandiose music that Deacon has ever produced....full text
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