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Electronic/Dance - Released January 31, 2020 | Domino Recording Co

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Mystic Familiar marks Dan Deacon's return to making majestically arranged synth pop, after several years spent concentrating on film scores and his long-term involvement with the contemporary classical world. Continuing to explore the existentialist lyrical themes of 2015's Gliss Riffer, he reflects on his personal experiences without directly detailing any specific instances; instead concentrating on intense feelings and channeling them through his music. Deacon's singing voice sounds closer to Wayne Coyne's than ever, and he maintains a similar sense of determined optimism, even while facing a scary, oppressive world filled with darkness and negativity. The lyrics are encouraging and empowering without relying on self-help clichés, and they maintain the surrealist bent of Deacon's previous work without seeming as cartoonish. With titles like "Become a Mountain," "Sat by a Tree," and "Fell Into the Ocean," the songs evoke images from nature, motivating the listener to seize the moment and make this short life count before it's over. Like much of his work since 2009's astounding Bromst, the arrangements are driving and full of excitement, but not quite in the same manic sugar-rush way as Spiderman of the Rings. The interlocked rhythms are urgent without being too forceful; on "Fell Into the Ocean," Deacon commands "first you must relax before transcend," and this fittingly describes how his music eases into revelation. The album's centerpiece is the four-movement "Arp" suite, which begins with soft, squeaky synths before building up a racing drum pattern, breaking free midway for a celestial sax solo by Andrew Bernstein. Deacon reassures the listener that inner peace "starts any moment you'd like." Mystic Familiar's triumphant victory lap is "Bumble Bee Crown King," a dazzling instrumental featuring Dustin Wong's unmistakable, spellbinding guitar work. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electronic/Dance - Released January 13, 2020 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released February 23, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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After the creative maturity and ambition of 2012's America, Dan Deacon may appear to have taken a step back with his 2015 effort Gliss Riffer, which abandons the orchestrations and the more thoughtful mood of that album for a more explicitly pop-oriented vision, dominated by the playful clatter of sequenced beats, the buzz and sweep of dozens of vintage keyboards, and layers of vocals that have been vocodered into vintage sci-fi timbres or pitch-shifted into distant relatives of Alvin Chipmunk. And it is the vocals that truly stand out on tracks like "Sheathed Wings" and "Meme Generator," where Deacon's aggressive use of processing turns them into instrumental components in the music, not merely lyrics that float over the top. Not to say the words don't count on Gliss Riffer; "When I Was Done Dying" and "Learning to Relax" make it clear Deacon is a more intelligent and introspective lyricist than one might expect at first glance, and the looped chorus of "Happiness takes time, and time is my life, and I have no time, and I'm still alive..." in "Mind on Fire" gets more ominous the longer Deacon lets it play out. This is consistent with much of the material on Gliss Riffer, an album that often seems joyous on the surface, but a closer look reveals that Deacon's creative growth on America is very much present here, though molded into different forms. These tracks are cheerfully aggressive in the manner of Deacon's best-known work, but the melodies are rich and the layering of the plentiful aural sources is as artful as anything on America, if less obviously so. And the final two tracks, "Take It to the Max" and "Steely Blues," are stunning, intelligent, and engaging expansions on the possibilities of minimalism that reaffirm the depth of Deacon's musical vision. Gliss Riffer may not be the next step many expected after America, but it leaves no doubt he remains a force to be reckoned with in indie electronic, creating smart and satisfying work with a stubbornly individual perspective. ~ Mark Deming
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Electronic/Dance - Released November 30, 2018 | Domino Soundtracks

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 29, 2019 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released August 25, 2017 | Carpark Records

Film Soundtracks - Released October 13, 2017 | Domino Soundtracks

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At 36 years old, Dan Deacon is considered one of the leading composers of his generation. He started his career as a kind of talented one-man band (he played various instruments, such as the tuba and keyboard in many bands). Now, he is most of all known for being a prolific electro music wonder boy, especially during his outstanding live performances, in which the interaction with the audience plays an essential role. As for his studio albums, there are already eight of them. Let’s cite Spiderman And The Rings released by Wildfire Wildfire in 2007, as well as America released by Domino in 2012. Before Rat Film, he already tried his hand at being a movie composer for experimental films, including Francis Ford Coppola’s bold thriller, Twixt, in 2011. Theopolis Anthony’s documentary attempt explores with originality the complex social life in Baltimore. Such an original subject could only suit Dan Deacon, who has a field day experimenting in the most mad and joyful way. His audacity reaches new heights in tracks where the performance is entrusted to… rats! It’s the case of the opening track (Redlining),  in which the rodents “play” the Theremin, a primitive electronic instrument that was already the heyday of American cinema many decades ago thanks to some compositions from Miklós Rózsa, notably for Alfred Hitchcock. Here, we aren’t in the master of suspense’s avian world, but in the realm of rats, whose movements associated to the Theremin create a sequence of sounds and rhythms, reworked later by Deacon like MIDI samples. Just like this track, the soundtrack of Rat Film is filled with pieces whose execution and results are surprising. Let’s cite the horrific Video Game or even Harold’s Lament, in which Deacon plays with the strident sounds of a cello, but also with the cracks of an Ikea chair on which the instrumentalist is seated! But beside all that, Deacon grants himself moments whose sounds are more familiar, such as Pelican, where Steve Strohmeier’s electric guitar suffuses quiet improvisations on blues harmonies. And even if he’s an adept of the most insane quirkiness, the composer isn’t against depicting a scene literally. It’s the case with Harold, in which Dan Deacon illustrates a ping-pong game with a synthesizer quite simply evoking the sounds from the ball against the racket. One of a kind, this experimental and atmospheric soundtrack is the product of long work sessions in the studio, where the musicians’ improvisations combined to Deacon’s genius give birth to music whose freshness and audacity offer a stark contrast with the too-often formatted aesthetics of today’s film scores. © NM/Qobuz
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Pop - Released March 23, 2009 | Carpark Records

From the first few minutes of Bromst, Dan Deacon's second Carpark full-length, it appears he may be going back to his university days at SUNY-Purchase, where he studied electro-acoustic composition. A slow-building track, naturally called "Build Voice," it repeats his vocal sample over and over with plenty of reverb -- an avant-garde piece, for sure. Still, it's only an introduction, and Bromst unfurls as an extravaganza of noise-pop that looks, not to the dance field, but to the slowly burgeoning indie rock fetish of voices, either in harmony or in chorus (think of Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes). Fans of Deacon's work won't necessarily be excited to hear that he's moving closer to blog favorites of the late 2000s, but his production and arranging skills illustrate that he's a powerful force no matter what the format. Although it's just as frenetic as his breakthrough, 2007's Spiderman of the Rings, there's also the sense that Deacon is pulling back from Spiderman's cartoonish mayhem; there are more pauses for breath, more experimentalism on display (and consequently, less mashing of breakbeats and signal processors), and a few meditative songs. Midway through the album, the seven-minute "Snookered" spends its first half quietly sublime before gradually intensifying into the insistent type of cut-up Deacon's made his reputation on. Maturity can be dangerous to your artistic health, but Bromst shows the right way to mature -- broaden your vision while still spending plenty of time on what you do best. ~ John Bush
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Pop - Released September 2, 2008 | Carpark Records

Part of Baltimore's growing Wham City collective, Dan Deacon wastes no time establishing his whimsical electronic music sensibilities on what is essentially his breakthrough, Spiderman of the Rings. The title alone perfectly captures his particular brand of hyperactive mad-dash electronica, which seems concerned simply with what sounds good in the moment as opposed to what might be part of a greater rationale; the music's madly impulsive sugar rush of cheap beats and mind-numbing tempos largely fails to leave any sort of lasting impression despite its temporary allure. The opener and strongest track, "Wooody Wooodpecker," delivers enough of an impact to encapsulate the shock-and-awe approach of nearly everything to follow, using its namesake's trademark cartoon laugh in an incessantly looped frenzy to lay a rhythmic foundation. The song's first half builds on that forward momentum, utilizing a blinding arsenal of sounds, cycling repeatedly into double time to create an overwhelming cacophony, which falls suddenly into a lull about halfway through -- only to rebuild once more on the back of shimmering synthesizers playing bubblegum chords. It's no wonder that Deacon's music is most successful in a live setting. This is pleasure music to freak out to, an in-your-face assault of sped up beats, manic vocals, and a disregard for subtlety which can often feel out of place coming through a home stereo as opposed to a high-power PA. That's not to say there's a lack of cohesion, however; on the contrary, everything feels very precise and well thought out, which is nowhere more evident than on the album's impressive 12-minute centerpiece, "Wham City." The piece carefully ebbs and flows between an abstract sound collage, a catchy, propulsive refrain, and finally, a stunning drum breakdown, propelled throughout by a resurfacing melodic vocal chant. In all, the first four numbers are strong and strike a winning balance and interplay with one another, with "Big Milk" well situated as Spiderman's only introspective respite from the breakneck pace heard elsewhere. Deacon's exuberance unfortunately becomes repetitive and overly-obnoxious a bit too often in the latter half of the album, which even at its abbreviated length of nine tracks drags on a bit too long. Spiderman of the Rings can be amusing ear candy just as easily as headache-inducing monotony; making this distinction depends on where and when it's played, and just how much uninhibited energy you can take in one dose. ~ Ben Peterson

Alternative & Indie - Released December 12, 2014 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released January 13, 2020 | Domino Recording Co

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 4, 2017 | Domino Soundtracks

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Electronic/Dance - Released October 21, 2016 | Easy Sound Recording Company

Pop - Released September 2, 2008 | Carpark Records

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Pop - Released September 2, 2008 | Carpark Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released September 7, 2016 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 12, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

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