Dan Deacon – Bromst

March 20, 2009
Dan Deacon - Bromst

Dan Deacon - Bromst

I often find myself reclining somewhere with my headphones on trying to sift through the sound on an experimental electronic album. This has something to be said for it. When you really sit down and concentrate on sound, for a long time, you start to become more aware of its intricacies and the more difficult concepts become palatable. However, sometimes I just want to listen to something easy. I don’t want to have to concentrate on being open minded in order to enjoy an obscure Autechre song, as ultimately rewarding as some of them end up being. Sometimes I just want playful electronic music. And sometimes I just want something I can shake my ass too.

Dan Deacon might find himself categorized as “experimental electronic,” but mostly only because that phrase is a catchall term. What Deacon does on Bromst is actually pretty down to earth and traceable. His arrangements are not polyrhythmic or atonal, like those of many of his “experimental electronic” contemporaries. His rhythms are propulsive and his melodies accessible and catchy. However, his sound palette is what makes Bromst a true electronic work, and songs such as “Snookered” are both glimmering and experimental. If Bromst resembles the work of any other artist, it would surely be that of Baltimore brethren Animal Collective on Merriweather Post Pavilion. It is probably premature to cite Merriweather as an influence, but at this point talking about electronic music in 2009 without mentioning Animal Collective is really only kidding yourself.

The songs we remember most from Merriweather Post Pavilion are the ones with the most energy. If Dan Deacon is a mad scientist, then he really only figured out one simple musical equation. Speed=Energy. In that respect, Deacon starts Bromst off at a sprint and doesn’t slow down, and his energy carries through the record effectively, keeping every song zippy and danceable. However, if the album has it’s weaknesses, they might stem from this. Each song runs the risk of being “the fast one,” and this unshakable energy puts a responsibility on Deacon to make his range of sound distinct with each song to ensure that we don’t get lost in the sound.

With that said, you have to look really hard for indistinct moments throughout Bromst, although it might take a couple listens to be able to parse the set out. It is really shocking how few weak spots the album has. Even the album’s only song that might be considered filler, “Wet Wings,” is fascinating, and proves that every sound here is carefully considered. He opts especially for malleted percussion quite often, and it suits him well, allowing him to be melodic and rhythmic simultaneously. And while every song is energetic, they are all formed in unique ways that are quite memorable: The opening “Build Voice” wavers from nothing into a sweeping and majestic melody, “Red F” conversely spirals outward from a ear crunching drone, and “Of the Mountains” starts with a humble malletted melody.

For those who have accused Deacon of being over-the-top in the past, Bromst will surely please. His whimsical appearance might suggest Play-Do and Rubix Cubes, but Bromst more closely resembles Legos, colorful and but also logical, whimsical yet stimulating. Deacon has not resigned his playful style, but has fully developed it with a restraint and appreciation for simple charms that suits him well. Bromst ends up being a sort of chamber electronic album – one that we love to play at a party but can also appreciate the subtle intricacies of, born of a compromise that very few electronic artists are brave enough to make.

Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon

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