Posted on February 25th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Nick Manai

The most notable thing about Dan Deacon’s new LP, Gliss Riffer, is, unquestionably, the new reliance on vocals. Deacon, who was always able to build a convincing level of humanity in his glistening synth textures, appears this time around trying his hand at more conventional verse-chorus structure. The result is anything but standard, and fans who might be worried these new arrangements might muddle his historically frenzied live performances, rest easy.

In fact, one of the most enthralling things about Gliss Riffer is the way that Deacon is able to effortlessly fashion vocals and verses around such gorgeous and enigmatic synth rhythms. There are dozens of moments on this album where you can imagine Deacon running off on a spaced-out synth loop, following it down some dark rabbit hole as his audience dances away in any one of the many incarnations a Dan Deacon show can form around.

“Feel the Lightening,” which starts things off, opens with a simmering tap-tap drum loop before collapsing into arena-ready formal static. As the beat builds, Deacon’s voice squeezes in, high-pitched and altered, until collapsing into that of a baritone patriarch, a verbal conversation emerging out of the smoke. Deacon’s focus on the possibilities that can emerge from this kind of literal dialogue never overshadow his ear for the bending nuances of his computer. However, he does seem ready to pull back from the sounds you came wanting to hear, to let you listen to him sing.

“Sheathed Wings” and “Meme Generator” are both covered in the kind of spastic color spectrum that has become a staple of Deacon’s music. But even “Sheathed Wings” finds itself backing down towards the chorus to let Deacon announce he needs things “a little bit closer” over and over. One can only imagine what this is going to turn into live.

Deacon was on tour with Arcade Fire in early 2014, playing to one of the biggest audiences of his career, but also in huge arenas that were probably never more than half full. That’s quite a task for an electronic artist with as much spastic energy as Deacon instills in even his studio recordings. Gliss Riffer never feels confined to the lessons Deacon must have learned going through this experience though. Aside from “Feel the Lightening,” none of these songs feel uniquely tailored for arenas. However, there are also examples like "Learning to Relax,” which cycle through a large repertoire of moods, falling on somber, relaxed, but also euphoric. For example, note what happens about 2 minutes and 25 seconds into the song, when the kaleidoscope comes together and the voices reform as just instruments, helping you move through the sensation of being here; here being at a Deacon show, or here in your living room, or just in bed with your headphones on loud.

Track List:

  1. Feel The Lightening
  2. Sheathed Wings
  3. When I Was Dying
  4. Meme Generator
  5. Mind On Fire
  6. Learning To Relax
  7. Take It To The Max
  8. Steely Blues
Dan Deacon - Gliss Riffer Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

75 / 100
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