Since 2015’s Glass Riffer album, Baltimore’s electronic maestro Dan Deacon has been throwing his whole self into other projects such as soundtracks for Rat Film and Time Trial. He did, however, keep nipping back to his day job of making his music. The songs on Mystic Familiar were formed over this time, and whilst he was returning to what he knows best, the experiences have fed into him expanding his sound on this record.
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Dan Deacon has been blurring the lines between psychedelia, pop, electronic music and indie since he began releasing music in 2003. Of course, there’s much more at play in his compositions than that, and his latest album ‘Mystic Familiar’ adds elegant shades of synth pop, minimalism and art rock into this kaleidoscopic flurry.
From the opener ‘Becoming A Mountain’, I knew ‘Mystic Familiar’ was going to take me for a joyous ride. The orchestral duplications of Glass and Reich meet the playful psych pop of ‘Feels’ era Animal Collective, all topped off with the whimsy of early Mercury Rev. This intrigue securing sound persists in the upbeat krautrock of lead single ‘Sat By A Tree’, the elegiac synth pomp of ‘Fell Into The Ocean’, and the twisting pace of the contemplative ‘My Friend’.
The main body of the album, its central focus and greatest moments can be found in the ‘Arp’ tetralogy. ‘Wide Eyed’ sees space age pop electronic twiddling meet tribal percussion, ‘Float Away’ forms chaotic yet colourful sways of synths, and ‘Far From Shore’ impresses as a mind-blowing composition of multi-layered textures and chameleonic moods. A singular drum hit signals the introduction of swirling brass evocative of Colin Stetson, bleeding into ponderous kick drums, sci-fi vocals and Eno-esque art rock. It could even form another musical series in itself; I can almost feel the glow of the fireworks!
‘Mystic Familiar’ is an incredibly joyous and uplifting listen. Deacon manages to balance complexity and catchiness impeccably, with the Wall of Sound dynamics and orchestral-led repetition creating a gloriously hypnotic impression. Upon finishing this album, I immediately desired to delve deeper into Dan Deacon’s discography and I’m already eyeing up his gig at The Brudenell next week. What a great start to the year!
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