Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer
- Malcolm Jack
- 11 February 2015
It's easy to find something to love in this well-crafted collection of hi-watt tracks
In the wake of ensemble-made works Bromst (2009) and America (2012), this is Dan Deacon’s second album for Domino and his ninth in total. As a return to 2007’s self-produced solo affair, Spiderman of the Rings, it would be convenient to imagine Gliss Riffer as him coming full-circle back to his days of blowing up Baltimore warehouse parties.
But that would be too linear a way of viewing the career of this Long Island-born musician, contemporary classical composer, founder member of Baltimore’s Wham City art/performance collective and all-round electronic renaissance man, whose creative muse pulls him in all kinds of directions all at once. Which might be scoring a film for Francis Ford Coppola (2011’s Twixt), collaborating on a comedy series for Adult Swim, touring with Arcade Fire, or playing New York’s Carnegie Hall for a John Cage tribute night.
Gliss Riffer represents more of a candied condensing of Deacon at his most eager to please: eight tracks of hi-watt electro-punk positivity, bubble-gum noise-as-euphoria, Woody Woodpecker pitch-shifted vocal loops, pseudo-breakcore beats and song craft at once studiously composed and leaving plenty of space for spontaneity. Deacon’s live shows, typically performed in-the-round and involving extensive audience participation, see him frenziedly fiddling with his spaghetti-cabled mess of colourful equipment like a man trying to diffuse a day-glo time bomb.
‘Feel the Lightning’ is a Passion Pit-style mid-tempo work of woozy wonderment, sung ostensibly as a duet with a female voice; this voice, through some ingenious feat of signal-processing, makes a burly, balding dude sound sweetly feminine, and transpires to be Deacon’s own. ‘Learning to Relax’ straps a stock pop chord sequence to a rocket-powered beat, blasting through clouds of dreamy synth and chattering vocal loops.
Closing the collection are two seven-minutes-plus instrumentals nodding to Deacon’s more freeform output: the twirling, twinkling mania of ‘Take it to the Max’ and the queasy ‘Steely Blues’. If you don’t find something of Dan Deacon’s in here to love, then truly it was never meant to be.