Although it sometimes seems that Dan Deacon has created a new Baltimore music scene all by himself, the electro-pop composer likes to involve others. Nearly 20 musicians help expand Deacon's vision on "Bromst," the rollicking, richly layered follow-up to 2007's one-man show, "Spiderman of the Rings." These days, Deacon leads a 14-person ensemble that includes two guitarists, four synthesists and eight percussionists.
That lineup reveals Deacon's current direction. While "Bromst" pulses with electric noise and digital effects, it also draws on minimalist music pioneer Steve Reich's compositions for drums and tuned percussion. ("Slow With Horns/Run for Your Life" sounds like a triple-time descendant of Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians.") Atop bleepy beats and chiming polyrhythms, such tracks as "Snookered" float vocal chorales that recall Brian Eno's song-oriented 1970s albums.
Eno's and Reich's influences are strong, but the album twists in multiple directions, from an electronically treated bluegrass lament, "Wet Wings," to such cartoon-voiced techno romps as "Baltihorse." It may be too diverse and playful for devotees of stripped-to-the-bone club sounds, but "Bromst" is fundamentally dance music.
-- Mark Jenkins, Weekend (May 2009)