An Album A Day

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Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings

Spiderman of the Rings Cover ArtArtist: Dan Deacon
Album: Spiderman of the Rings
Released: May 8, 2007 | Carpark Records
Recorded: 2007 | Baltimore, MD
Players: Dan Deacon

Track Listing:

  1. Woody Woodpecker (3:50)
  2. The Crystal Cat (3:53)
  3. Wham City (11:45)
  4. Big Milk (4:25)
  5. Okie Dokie (2:37)
  6. Trippy Green Skull (4:01)
  7. Snake Mistakes (4:11)
  8. Pink Batman (5:05)
  9. Jimmy Joe Roche (5:57)

So last post I was struggling to find a modern comparison to Mr. Timman’s live act. Somehow I forgot about my musical hero of 2007. The man I look up to in all facets of musical superdom. The man who makes Girl Talk look and sound like the simpleton trash that he is. A real artist, a real wierdo, Dan Deacon.

I stumbled upon Spiderman of the Rings in the back of a small music store on South Street in my first excursion to Philadelphia. A Pittsburgh native since three years old, I don’t know how I managed to travel Europe, drive across our country at least five times and see both Mexico and Canada before visiting Philadelphia.

I was not ready for any of this. Accompanied by father and sister, who were always eager to receive music recommendations from myself, I popped in the disc as we drove towards St. Joseph’s. Somewhere in the middle of “Woody Woodpecker”, my Dad complained about it not even being music. It was over. That night, I blasted the album on repeat in my hotel. I was convinced Dan Deacon is the future.

The first track, using various speeds of the infamous cartoon woodpecker laugh, Deacon creates a playful, yet suspenseful intro track. The descent into madness begins.

The next, “The Crystal Cat”, the ‘single’ of the album (and I only say that because of the music video made, plus the track is pretty damn catchy, I think even the uninitiated could grasp onto it) is a perfect song to drive to, if you are into driving the opposite direction of traffic on the 405 at dawn.

“Wham City” is the real musical breakthrough on the album. What could have easily been two (or even three) separate tracks, Dan Deacon creates a twelve minute electronic epic tied together by an nonsensical, sing-a-longable, chorale rap in this ode to the Baltimore art collective which he belongs. I must have listened to this track fifty times, and still I get caught thinking another has begun until the chorus kicks in again. This is what music should do, it should take you places you’ve never imagined and drop you back off on your head when you are done.

“Big Milk”, my favorite kind of milk by the way, is a simple instrumental number using midi-bells over a quiet piano loop constrained by clockwork rhythm (It ticks..) and decorated with live synth effects. It’s amazingly inventive and yet surprisingly simple. A great track to add to your personal sleep playlist.

Another perfect track to crash your car too, “Okie Dokie” intersperses Deacon’s mangled verses of childlike thrills between anthemic rock shouts of “I’ve got a rattlesnake gun” and “I’ve got an aerosmith gun” (I think) to hit me where it really counts. I feel you Dan, I got one too. This track could be a collaboration of TV On The Radio, The Modern Lovers and LCD Soundsystem if the musical world were to grant us such gifts. It will not. But Dan Deacon will.

“Trippy Green Skull” is just what it sounds like. It scares the hell out of me everytime. You can judge for yourself.

Then Dan brings it back down to Earth, with “Snake Mistakes”. I make these snake mistakes. Clever vocoder work alongside bass & FX loops with and ode to his dad in the middle. For all the rappers that I see with songs to their mother on their second album, this was a pleasant (if not sarcastic) surprise. On that same note…

“Pink Batman” could easily be the theme song to the homosexual equivalent of the crime-fighting Chiropteric super-hero, or it could sit alongside Mark Mothersbaugh’s work on The Life Aquatic OST. Whatever you are into, Dan Deacon does not discriminate.

A synth arpeggiator begins the final cut, “Jimmy Joe Roche”. A multimedia artist himself, Mr. Roche is credited with filming and editing most of Dan’s videos found around this old interweb. I imagine this is what life sounds like inside a pinball machine. It doesn’t quite sum up the album as much as I would like, however. Hopefully, it is Dan’s way of saying ‘to be continued…’.

Definitely the most well-scripted of all the Dan Deacon releases, Spiderman of the Rings (though I don’t like saying such things) was probably my favorite new album of 2007. As a musician, it inspired me to continue my craft of electro-acoustic madness in ways unprecedented since the release of OK Computer ten years earlier. Musically that is not a fair comparison to either Radiohead or Dan Deacon, but it is made rather to illustrate what each album meant to me. Man still has much to achieve.

<Download older Dan Deacon tracks here>


Album Unity: 7
Longevity: 9
Musicianship: 6
Originality: 10
Production: 7

Total Score: 39


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30 June, 2008 - Posted by | electronic, indie electronic, rock

1 Comment »

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