Since the release of his 2015 album ‘Glass Riffer’, prolific Baltimore producer Dan Deacon has thrown himself into a host of collaborations. He’s worked on film scores, the ESPN documentary series 30 for 30, team-ups with the NYC Ballet, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and more, proving himself a nimble, adaptable producer who can conjure feeling across an infinite number of different backgrounds.
When he returned to solo duty for new album ‘Mystic Familiar’, then, a fair bit of soul searching was in order, bringing the attention back to himself after an elongated period of catering for others. What emerges is an album that sees him diving deep into the inner self.
The title, Deacon has said, refers to a supernatural being that we carry within ourselves, and the 11 songs here are formed of conversations with this inner self. ‘Mystic Familiar’ is Deacon’s most kaleidoscopic work yet – it often feels like spinning through an LSD-enhanced wonderland – but also his most human record.
Deacon says that meditation and compassion have influenced the new album, as well as Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards first released in 1975 that aimed to help lift artists out of creative blocks. The music, then, sounds suitably blissful.
On the jubilant, ecstatic ‘Sat By A Tree’ (the album’s poppiest cut) and the colourful ‘Fell Into The Ocean’, Deacon proves that diving deep into your thoughts can unearth previously unimaginable wonders. He lays his findings out in suitably beautiful terms on the latter track, singing: “Dig deep, the water deep down is safe enough to drink / Burn bright, the fire inside is brighter than you think…. Feel free, first you must relax before transcend.” It’s a wide-eyed discovery of a whole new world.
Elsewhere on the record, when Deacon’s not singing of new discoveries and personal euphoria, he’s happy to sit back and be a passenger on a magical mystery tour, which plays out on the trippy, erratic four-part symphony ‘Arp’ that makes up the midsection of the album.
Like any conversation we have with ourselves, ‘Mystic Familiar’ is not simple or predictable, but does prove the power of switching off all distractions and taking the time to dig deep into what’s inside. There’s a whole other universe you might be missing.
Release date: January 31
Record label: Domino Record Co.