After seven albums, 12 tours and 300-plus shows, classically trained-composer-turned-one-man-party Dan Deacon will release his eighth album this summer. Set to drop May 8, Spiderman of the Rings aims to fill a major transitional void for Deacon – from experimental live pop performer to full-fledged electronic artist.

Chris Herring
Yup. This about sums it all up. (Courtesy of Carpark)

The album’s opening track, “Woody Woodpecker,” begins like a slow-cranked jack-in-the-box – a little creepy, especially when Deacon mixes in the laughing voice of the mischievous, cartoon bird. Each sound element is blended together, gradually distorted and built-up, ending in a pulsing, static beat.

Each of the nine tracks on Spiderman is fast and electric, often reminiscent of sci-fi sound effects and old-school video games like Tetris. That may be the album’s weak point – it can be easily tuned out like the background music of Pac Man or Mortal Kombat.

“Big Milk” is slower and more whimsical, with lots of tinkling bells and chimes. After the eerie sound of an UFO abduction is added, the tone is constant for the duration of the song.

Though sparsely used, Deacon’s lyrics are bizarre but fitting to his musical style. On “Snake Mistakes,” he incoherently rambles about snakes and bees: “Why won’t these bees leave me alone / I hate them bees.” He’s a man of a few, weird words.

Named after Deacon’s hometown, “Wham City” is a near-12-minute acid trip. It starts innocently enough, with a slow guitar intro that eventually deteriorates into a sick fairy tale spewed out in a squeaky voice: “There is a mountain of snow up past the big land / We have a castle enclosed, there is a fountain / Out of the fountain flows gold into a huge hand . ” And so on.

A live light show and dance-party atmosphere would appropriately complement Deacon’s music. Good thing this is the usual setting for his widely acclaimed shows. But without this added stimulus, the album has trouble holding the listener’s attention.

Deacon’s oddness is highly polished – he holds a master’s degree in electro-acoustic composition from Purchase College in New York. He uses high-tech equipment – including a sine wave generator in live performances – to master his absurdity . Although he misses a few marks in album production, it’s hard to imagine that Deacon puts on a boring show when all the elements of his anomalous performance are combined.

Dan Deacon
Spiderman of the Rings
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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