, August 31st, 2012 07:50
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.
Deacon sits identifiably in the tradition of minimalism, despite his music’s considerable amplitude: how layers appear, play with one another, and disappear, is almost as important as how each sounds solo. His classical credentials are considerable, but the artistic ambition is swamped by an overwhelming desire to have fun. Polyrhythms are central. Triplets clash with duplets, desynchronise, and synchronise again. Fans of pizzicato strings, ticking clocks, Steve Reich, and happy hardcore will be pleased, sometimes simultaneously. It can be a challenging listen: a pre-emptive Nurofen or two would be advisable. The album’s opening is a sharp painful pulse, a loud guttural roar demanding that we pay the artist the respect he wants to deserve.
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Elsewhere Deacon touts his developed songwriting skills: ‘True Thrush’ has gorgeous, joyful harmonies even as its elements are overlaid with thick furs of fuzz, while ‘Prettyboy’ is the finale music for a thoughtful Japanese video game. Evidence of Deacon’s burgeoning emotional intelligence at the fore and aft of the album flanks angry ‘Lots’ and ‘Crash Jam’, whose bawling rampages kowtow the listener into submission with overdriven vocals stapled to drums that imitate irate lorry pistons.
The album’s opening trio of tracks beat any of Deacon’s previous tracks in pairwise comparisons. A dash of extra variety, and an increasing ability to transform clever layers of sound into well-structured songs, make this his best contribution to date. But the USA suite steals the show. Let’s hope the Deacon of the future suffers from further delusions of grandeur.