Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dan Deacon: Bromst

Artist: Dan Deacon
Album: Bromst
Date Released: March 24, 2009
Genre: electronica
Rating: 8.4

There seems to be a higher standard set for electronic music, simply by virtue of the fact that the stumbling block of actually playing an instrument is gone. The computer's virtuosity in triggering notes and sequences offers electronic artists a distinct advantage when constructing tracks. On Bromst, Dan Deacon exploits this advantage to the fullest and instead directs his efforts to creating dense layers of sound and working with an array of unique samples.

The album starts off slowly, gradually bringing the listener into Deacon's bizarre sonic world. The second and third tracks, “Red F" and “Paddling Ghost,” sound like a strange mix of indie-electric pop and garage-rock -- but it works well on many other levels. “Paddling Ghost” would be a standard lo-fi rock tune if it wasn't for the electronic flourishes, such as chipmunk-esque voices and the backing beat. He is able to balance very up-tempo backing drums with slower melody and vocal sections giving the songs a very distinct character. The actual construct of the songs is very rock oriented; Deacon just happens to use samples of voices, bells and various other sounds to play the role of the traditional driving guitar.

As Bromst progresses, Deacon starts sliding towards a more experimental feel, foregoing samples of traditional instruments like guitar and piano by using more vocal layering and mallet percussion to get the desired effects. “Wet Wings” consists exclusively of layered vocal tracks, but this is the only real let-down. It feels like Deacon could have done more with the idea rather then just build upon the vocals. In the last two songs he goes all out with his bag of tricks and creates some of the strongest tracks on the album. “Baltihorse” uses gorgeous xylophones and bells to create a rich sound that I am sure can only be topped by hearing it live.

With Bromst, Dan Deacon has created a much fuller soundscape than heard on his previous efforts. And the songs sound very much oriented to fall in step with his live shows. When listening to Bromst, it's very easy to imagine a room full of people dancing like mad to its schizoid beats, blips and clicks. Deacon has struck a great balance between catchy beats and his use of more experimental sounds; he gets them to work well together to make some fantastic music.

Standout tracks: “Paddling Ghost,” “Snookered,” and “Baltihorse”.

Reviewed by Ryan Konop.

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