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Dan Deacon, "America"
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Dan Deacon, “America”

Dan Deacon is one of those artists who’s proving that electronic music can be as complex, intelligent and absorbing as a symphony. And he can prove it because he knows that world, too — he studied composition and electronic music in college and has spent a great deal of time composing for orchestras and soundtracking movies.

If America were a soundtrack, the first five songs might accompany an indie rom-com for the Millennial generation. It’s packed with ecstatic and reckless emotion, but it’s not lacking in seriousness or exacting craftsmanship. “Lots,” as a title, feels more like a description of quantity than a noun. It’s loud with ultra-fuzzy everything — the bass, the synths, the vocals — and it has lose-yourself-in-the-moment pace. That’s followed up immediately by a single chord on what sounds like a vibraphone, silence, then the very slow crescendo and building layers of an electronic symphony, “Prettyboy.” But again, he switches gears into the crunchy, dissonant, driving “Crash Jam.”

The back end of America is a four-part suite: “USA I: Is A Monster” (apparently a play on a band called USAISAMONSTER), “USA II: The Great American Desert,” “USA III: Rail” and “USA IV: Manifest.” Here, Deacon gets far more orchestral, easing into the first part with strings and a soaring horn line. Within minutes, he’s back to heavy electronics, constantly building until they give way to the strings and horns again. “Rail” is delightfully literal — you can actually picture yourself looking out the window a train as some lovely countryside zips past, rhythmic interplay of marimbas, strings, horns and woodwinds in your ears. It all culminates spectacularly in the final part, soaring horn lines, warm strings, thumping rhythms and squeaking, glitchy electronics.

This is America with none politics or the crumbling economy, and all of the desire to explore and make something wonderful.

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