Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Dan Deacon: Bromst

As breakthrough records go, Dan Deacon’s Spiderman Of The Rings was hard to ignore, but limited. Who can’t futz around on a single-key thumb piano, loop Woody Woodpecker’s cackle, and pile some synth on top? Instead of “Who could?”, the primary question posed by those songs was “Who would?”, and the oversimplified answer was “That goofball on the dance floor sweating all over his gadgets.” With Bromst, Deacon not only shucks the “wacky” thing, he replaces it (and those gadgets) with virtuosity of composition and an array of instruments. This album represents his transformation from Baltimore club freak to overstimulated kin of Brian Eno and Cornelius. These are thick songs built around left-field ideas, positively fat with melodic content—physically shake the record, and sheets of notes would probably spray out like a colorful rain of tonal Skittles. Much of this is due to the use of a digitally rigged player piano capable of generating acoustic notes faster than any pair of human hands, but Deacon doesn’t lean on this. Rather, he writes extra-dense for the odd instrument, then spends as much (or more) effort shaping the atmosphere it inhabits. With most songs breaking six minutes, it’s challenging to digest individual pieces—“Red F” has those skittering percussive rolls, “Snookered” recalls Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, “Surprise Stefani” feels like Steve Reich—but it’s surprisingly easy to “get” Bromst as an album. Deacon has always said that he writes within his physical means (then: homemade equipment, sweltering clubs; now: actual studios, actual venues). A word of advice for anyone who crosses Dan’s path: Give this man anything he asks for.


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