Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

music Home > Record Reviews

Know Your Product

Dan Deacon


Dan Deacon: Bromst

Release Date:2009
Genre:Electronic/Dance, Instrumental
More info on local act

Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon performs April 4 at the H&H Building as part of Transmodern Festival. For more information visit

By Michael Byrne | Posted 4/1/2009

At least one of the remarkable things here is how two records can have such a similar net visceral effect yet be so different. Deacon's 2007 Spiderman of the Rings, the record that shot him into the world's ear, was a bargain-basement affair. Recorded by his lonesome onto and from machines for couch change, Rings was a DIY marvel, a manic, giddy, and dense epic. In interviews, Deacon has said that Spiderman, necessarily, limited his compositional range, and the result was a electronic pop album. Or, more specifically, it was only an electronic pop album.

Deacon is now flush and respected enough to be able to do things differently on Bromst. Did he make weekend trips to Hollywood to record with Danger Mouse? No. Did he hire a fleet of studio musicians? Nope. He wrote his opus, or something approaching it, and got his friends to play on it: Benny Boeldt from Adventure, Jana Hunter, Andy Abelow, Video Hippos' Kevin O'Meara, Kevin O'Meara's dad, Ponytail's Jeremy Hyman, Nuclear Power Pants' Chester Gwazda (who also produced the record). Cool, no? The final record is written to be performed live by a 15-piece band, full of live drums, horns, piano, marimba, and guitar. Spiderman of the Rings feels animated; this feels alive.

As different compositionally as Bromst is from Spiderman, the changes are less in tone and vibe. Some of the new tracks have already been in live rotation, performed old-school Deacon style--via an iPod--and kids are still getting all sugar-rushed and playing the gauntlet to them. But tracks such as "Wet Wings," a slow build to a drone of overlapped female voices, or the minutes-long, slow introspective wanders that open "Surprise Stefani" and "Snookered," are meant for something different than catalyzing art games.

The latter two both eventually erupt into giddy climaxes of manipulated vocals--there are still chipmunks here--dense, breathless percussion, and celebratory chiming, so no one is going to feel too tested by this. But it also feels like no one is going to get too worn out, either. Deacon has essentially created his own genre, and Bromst is just a further, more dynamic exploration of it. Note that "Surprise Stefani" and "Snookered" are two of three tracks on Bromst that approach the 8-minute mark, and with not a minute wasted on either.

Arrangements aside, Deacon's genre is still an electronic-rooted one and the record is full of sine waves and iridescent, cartoon-y synthesizers. "Red F," in particular, sounds like a Spiderman refugee, with its neighbor on the record, "Paddling Ghost," taking that hyperactivity and applying it to marimbas, one of the dominant live sounds on the record. By the time the record gets to "Baltihorse," those marimbas have become insane, forming the amphetamine-twinkle gut of the song before a disarming melody-filled interlude and last joyous burst.

E-mail Michael Byrne

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter