Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dan Deacon - America LP (Domino)

At any point prior to America, mentioning Dan Deacon to this reviewer could evoke the following associations: 
1.) The guy that brought a loaf of homemade bread backstage for Bradford when my band played with Deerhunter in 2008.
2.) This:    
                                Q. "Can It Get Eddie Veddar?"         
                                A. "You bet your Dan Deacon it can!"
3.) That brassy ring-leader of the opposition in dogs vs. cats.
4.) "Who's chair is that? Not my chair. Not my chair, not my problem that's what I say..."

How is it that the public can be both paranoid and complacent about the apocalypse? Perhaps because, as philosopher Slavoj Zizek says, it is easier for people to imagine the world ending than what it would take to stop it. Although it is nothing if not narcissistic to suppose the rapture will happen in our lifetime, this possibility, with its various seductive entry points, flickers across the minds of the best of us. As a hypothetical, it is the great perspective-inducer, socioeconomic leveler and priority adjustment bureau, becoming ever more mercurial as it slouches toward reality. In such a case, sheer terror would eclipse any sense of beauty.

But the theoretical apocalypse?
Wondrous, as it is on Dan Deacon’s America. In a statement of intent, Deacon describes the shift change that came alight when he first toured Europe, and in the face of otherness, first identified as an American. In the wake of this small scale apocalyptic thrust was a newfound aggregate of understanding: America, a maquette of utopian fallout. America blows out the confines of a working subculture—the psycho-sociality of the Baltimore scene, Deacon’s Wham City collective, and the larger DIY network across the country—putting broad-scale feelers out in what could be the soundtrack to an epic American film. It’s dosed with pop, but not the sad, plastic kind offered by way of mimesis. America is self-sufficient, performative even. It is the sentiment that inspired its creation, therefore, devoid of any of the distracting quirk found on previous albums.

There is limited language for the trending avant-garde pop artist that is merely accessorizing commercial pop tropes with counterculture hairdos and outfits (although a few four-letter words come to mind). This is not that. America is by all accounts earnest and prefaced with a substantiated regionalism. In the face of global culture, it is still the increasing lack of cultural niches like Wham City that threaten a musically diverse future. Likewise, nothing can replace the self-reliance this nurtures, and nothing can fortify an artist’s work like putting the energy on the line. (Have you seen this dude’s tour schedule?) In my limited understanding of Dan Deacon’s understanding of music, in a post-apocalyptic landscape, he would be the one capable of turning atomized blips and bytes into a mobilizing sound.
Elizabeth Murphy
                                                                                                                   -from Agit Reader