Dan Deacon, Spiderman of the Rings

Mike Powell

By Mike Powell

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Spiderman of the Rings opens with a four-minute treatise on why Dan Deacon should be committed. It follows with a four-minute treatise on why he should be sainted. Dan Deacon is one man from Baltimore and Dan Deacon sounds like an army; his thicket of wires and Casios is his flotilla, even if it looks like your local wild hobo's mobile time machine.

Dan Deacon’s noisy synth-pop earns its silliness and then some

But where Deacon's forbears — dead, ostensibly retarded Wesley Willis and nerd-king Atom and His Package — were as instant, cheap and reliable as a crotch shot, the noisy synth-pop on Spiderman of the Rings earns it silliness; it makes a statement out of it like Little Richard and Devo did. Dan Deacon is as serious as golf, it's just that he's most expressive when he's recycling a Ludacris verse and grinding it through a pitch-shifter. It's obscenely hyperactive music, but like any gag worth a damn, it never feels like a gag without complexity or color. His most visceral tracks (“The Crystal Cat,” “Snake Mistakes”) are as delirious as Spike Jones, as textured as the tonal quilts of Yellow Magic Orchestra and Terry Riley.

Spiderman Of The Rings

Dan Deacon

Nowhere are his powers higher than the 12 minutes of “Wham City,” the most reverent ode to a hometown since Television's “Marquee Moon.” Ultimately, Deacon is a lover like Television were lovers. And Television had their way of loving: guitars stretching up toward night skies like gothic peaks; Tom Verlaine's warble dishing out the purplest abstractions this side of high school. Deacon just has a different mode of making his presence truly felt; it strikes me that passion, conviction and a gaggle of freaks screaming to scare the rabid are pretty much the only things that could make Baltimore sound like the best city in the universe.

And it's Deacon's conviction above all that makes Spiderman of the Rings almost impossible to refute, even if you find it almost incomprehensibly annoying. Plenty of people could program some blast beats into a cheap drum machine and do some kooky singing over them, but it takes more than kitsch appeal to pull a bunch of equipment out of the trash and make an album that, at least in its best moments, sounds like a world unto itself.