After addressing the state of the nation on 2012’s electro-orchestral America, Baltimore oddball Dan Deacon sets his sights a little lower on Gliss Riffer, a ‘back-to-basics’ affair in which he simply aims to prove that he can relax.
Largely recorded on the road during last year’s support slot on Arcade Fire’s tour, these eight soundscapes may be a little less ambitious in scope, but they’re hardly the minimalistic and calming fare you might expect from the 33-year-old’s pre-release spiel.
Indeed, only the glacial electronica of the slightly meandering closer “Steely Blues” offers any proof of Dan Deacon’s ability to unwind, with even the track named “Learning To Relax” failing to sit still with its stuttering samples and effervescent beats.
Instead, the self-proclaimed weirdo revels in a typically dizzying blend of disembodied robotic vocals, echo-laden synths and giddy percussion, with the Steve Reich-meets-Oneohtrix Point Never acid trip of “Take It To The Max,” and the existential psychedelia of “When I Was Done Dying” perhaps the most avant-garde examples.
However, Gliss Riffer is arguably at its finest when it ventures towards more song-based territory, namely the ethereal electro-pop of opener “Feel The Lightning,” in which Deacon pitch-shifts his brooding baritone vocals to resemble a sweetly-sung chanteuse, and the exuberant electro-punk of “Sheathed Wings,” even if the latter is drenched in so much reverb that it sounds as though it’s been recorded entirely underwater.
As with the rest of Dan Deacon’s back catalogue, Gliss Riffer may take several listens for its unadulterated chaos to make sense. But it’s another mesmerising piece of work which proves few producers can weave together such a complex tapestry of sounds so skillfully.