Dan Deacon plays the Roisin Dubh next week as part of the Galway Arts Festival
Everything that could ever possibly need to be said about a Dan Deacon performance is covered in the first 7 minutes of that video, but just in case:
With the success of Dan Deacon’s 2007 album Spiderman of the Rings, came an opportunity for the electronic-music iconoclast to increase the breadth and depth of his entire musical project. Deacon moved from self-contained computer music to orchestral epics. His interactive live show, honed in DIY spaces, was taken to museums and concert halls. He frequently expanded his performances to include a horde of side musicians. Gliss Riffer, an entirely self-produced record of almost all electronic sounds, is a return to Deacon’s Spiderman of the Rings-era process. He calls it “easily the most fun [he’s] ever had making a record.”
Despite being predominately electronic, Gliss Riffer’s sonic palette is informed by his post-Spiderman material. The Disklavier, a MIDI-fed player piano first heard on Bromst, is present here. (This time around, Deacon ran it so hard it broke.) Cross-rhythms suggestive of America’s orchestral opus “USA” and Deacon’s art music work (including a Carnegie Hall performance and film score for Francis Ford Coppola) are also in evidence. What Gliss Riffer shares with Spiderman of the Rings as a musical experience is an aesthetic directness and ecstatic energy. Gliss Riffer trades in exuberant, uncontained fun.
Lyrical images of lightning, oceans, lakes, and roads crop up frequently as stand-ins for freedom and self-realization. The tracks were started on the ever-changing landscapes that greet a touring musician. The lyrics, on the other hand, were mostly written in Deacon’s studio, a room with no windows and no air conditioning in Baltimore’s sweltering summer where it was easy to imagine being somewhere else.
So while Gliss Riffer is all about fun, it’s figured dramatically. It’s a euphoria tempered by yearning and set in defiance of life’s nagging anxiety. “Happiness takes time,” we are reminded by tremolo vocals in the middle of the supremely danceable “Mind on Fire.” The bliss on this record is well-earned.