james debate
james debate

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Genre Electronic, Psychedelic
Label Carpark Records
Producer Dan Deacon
Release date(s) 24th March 2009 (UK)

The word genius is thrown around far too often these days. However there are times when it is appropriate. Steven Spielberg is a genius. Sir Isaac Newton was a genius. And Mozart was a genius. Dan Deacon is probably the closest thing we've had to Mozart since.

Now let me clarify: Dan Deacon does not record classical music in the style most of you will have come to know and love of Mozart. Dan Deacon preaches a uniquely psychedelic form of experimental electronic music. What I mean when I compare him to Mozart is that he is simply a master of compositions. His music, as a style, can be described simply as 'information overload' and yet so meticulously sublime are his compositions that each and every one of his hundreds of notes in a stretch of a few seconds is perfectly and thoughtfully placed, forming a symphony of sound the likes of which could only have been put together by someone with the gifted musical brain of a Mozart or a Bach. Make no mistake, if they were still alive, they would be pushing the envelope with sounds like this.

This has always been obvious to fans of his, even with his old albums like Spiderman of the Rings. One needs only to listen to the likes of the epic 11 minute long Wham City to get a taste of the intricacy and beauty of which this man is capable. But in his latest album, Bromst he has achieved his most mature and complete work yet, and one which may finally bring him the recognition he deserves.

So first a little background on the man that you probably are not too familiar with. Deacon is a member of a Baltimore art collective named Wham City where, with his degrees in electro-acoustic and computer music composition he specializes in experimental music and audience participation. For Deacon there's no such thing as a stage, there's no barrier between artist and audience. Instead, his famously exuberant gigs usually descend into mass dance-offs with Deacon conducting the madness from behind his set-up in the middle of the dancefloor.

His live performances typically involve audience participation, often requiring the attendees to perform physical tasks and games en masse during the songs, like opening a big circle and ask two people to dance in it. If this sounds incredibly pretentious, don't worry. For Deacon dance music is a serious, almost scientific experiment, a quest for sensory bliss.

In his previous albums he almost achieved this with some trippy tunes that were at times brilliant, at times off putting and over the top. That's where this most recent, more mature effort comes in. Replacing a neon rush of synthesizers and heavily pitched voices with real instrumentation and a little self control.

The result is an album that I am prepared to declare the best of the year so far, despite only having handful of top notch songs. The reason for this is that these songs REALLY are top notch. This entire album sounds like Deacon has taken the sound of the song Wham City and turned it into an entire album of different tracks. The opening song Build Voice, starts in an off key of harsh repetitive noise before the full melody builds a crescendo, pushing through the chaos like a ray of light through the clouds and culminating in a slow building but powerful masterpiece of melody.

However the highlight of the album is the 7 minute long Snookered which begins with a calm and earthy xylophone intro to set the tone before coalescing with a heart pounding rush of electric strings in a simply stunning fashion.

This is the best album of the year so far. Dan Deacon is a genius, who has finally hit upon a formula that will spread his brilliance to the mainstream. This album nevertheless falls short of perfection by having a few sublime songs and a few forgettable songs, but when the sublime songs are this good who really cares?

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