Some traditionalist rock, pop and hip-hop fans hate "electronic musicians" for a very simple reason — that shit they make ain't songs. For those accustomed to the smooth contours of classically structured popular music — some verses, a chorus, a hook along the way, some lyrics about love or whatnot — the experimental miasma of Brian Eno's '70s soundscape efforts or Animal Collective's hippie-centric modern-day albums can feel like little more than pretentious noise parading around as the future of songcraft. Electronic atheists might therefore initially dismiss Dan Deacon's Bromst for some of the same reasons, but if they're willing to meet him halfway, this acclaimed up-and-coming Baltimore musician could be their gateway drug.
As would be expected, Deacon deals in moods and tonal shifts rather than riffs and bridges, and his second full-length album is a flurry of tinkly pianos, space-age keyboards and occasional vocal samples that requires a decent amount of patience for its long slopes of sound to cohere. But cohere it does, and soon, Bromst resembles the sort of complete beginning-to-end emotional experience that was supposed to fall by the wayside once the album lost its supremacy as a sonic art form. But the pure, ecstatic pleasure of tracks like "Woof Woof" and "Snookered" come from mood music with palpable forward momentum. That is, Bromst's ebb and flow generates real energy and drama — you know, like the kind you're used to from traditional popular music. Dan Deacon doesn't write "songs" in the way that some might think of them, but this shit is pretty gorgeous.
Dan Deacon plays Saturday, May 9, at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, 5141 Rosa Parks Blvd., Detroit; 313-899-2243. With Future Islands, Teeth Mountain and Genders.
Tim Grierson writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].