Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Dan Deacon - Bromst

Written for The Quietus

MP3: Get Older

Truffle-shuffling Canadian electronic alt-pop star Dan Deacon sure knows how to make an impression. His music is a full on sensory assault, built from micro-melody earworms and cascading, geometric sequences of notes. His pitch-shifted proto-rap chanting slips and slides over a twinkling, gleaming, ever-evolving array of technicolour electronic sounds. It's music stuffed to bursting point, written on such a detailed OCD level that it sometimes teeters on the edge of how much the mind can take in, like the audio equivalent of a magic eye picture.

On his second album, 'Bromst', Deacon has decided to take the famously cathartic, joyful, 'tribal' aspect of his live show, and run with it in a quite literal way. Across the course of the record we're treated to Lion King style cartoon chanting, vaguely oriental instrumentals and chopped up Irish acapella folk, mixed with buzzing, chirping synthetic sounds and pounding sampled drum patterns. 'Bromst' is a genuine but wry exploration of the dreamlike place in which Deacon's passionate hyper-pop touches on religious musical fervour - the album artwork spells out as much with a glowing plastic tent pegged out in the dark wilderness of nature.

Sausagefest '08

The opening trilogy - "Build Voice", "Red F" and "Paddling Ghost" - continue the insistent, euphoric sound of "Spiderman Of The Rings", injecting Deacon's trademark pitch-shifted vocal squiggles into tumbling rhythms, soaring synth lines and searing electronic noise meltdowns. Plucked string sounds are stretched and looped and repeated, fracturing their familiarity and unleashing worlds of possible miniature variations. Sounds, structures and pieces of unused tune and rhythm lie all around each segment, with Deacon whirling gleefully through his workshop plastering it all together into constant new configurations. It's like being sucked into someone else's manic episode, in the best possible way.

Later on there is some respite: the choppy female vocals on "Wet Wings" is a surprising but fitting addition. "Woof Woof" features a sharp cut-up bassline and is an album highlight, also standing out as the most accessible of the bunch. It breaks down into another unintelligible percussive cat-rap, any kind of continuity exploded once again in a completely thrilling way. Dan Deacon has found a brilliantly individual style of maximalism, a prysmic, childlike, no-holds-barred expression of an internal world that is rammed with wonder. To some, the ceaseless ear-assault and willful flirtation with sonic overload may prove too much to bear, but inside this bizarre and intense record there lies a vivid and imaginative alternative world waiting to be discovered.

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