Dusting Off... Dan Deacon's Spiderman of the Rings
What is it?
Released in 2007, Spiderman of the Rings is an album by American electronic musician and composer Dan Deacon. While not his first full-length release, having put out two albums consisting of sound collages and live recordings on CD-R, plus a number of EPs from 2003 to 2006, Spiderman of the Rings is usually considered his first 'proper' album and was the first to be commercially available, released on the Carpark Records imprint.
Born in Long Island, New York, Deacon is now a resident of Baltimore and part of the Wham City art & music collective that includes the likes of filmmaker Ben O'Brien and Adult Swim's Alan Resnick. While still at university studying electronic music he began making recordings of his odd live sets, which usually involved a lot of audience participation and included Deacon's unusual live set-up of tone generators and circuit-bent synthesizers, all heavily processed using a variety of effects units. Whereas his early music was highly experimental, Spiderman of the Rings is a more structured affair, although it still retains a highly experimental edge. It's also the first of his albums to feature vocals.
Spiderman of the Rings contains a wide variety of instrumentation and styles, from the Looney Tunes-sampling opener 'Woody Woodpecker', awash with unusual percussion, through the delicate chimes and electronic piano of 'Big Milk', to the downright frenetic, fuzzy synths of tracks like 'Okie Dokie' and 'Snake Mistakes'. Particular highlights include the 11-minute epic 'Wham City' and the beautiful but baffling 'Pink Batman', which hints at the direction of some of his more recent albums such as 2012's America.
Why should I revisit?
Deacon is one of the most unusual electronic musicians around and by the time of his last album, America, his eccentric electronic noodlings had matured in to something really very intricate and clever. Spiderman of the Rings is the starting point for all of that and is both intelligent and playful. He also has a new album coming in February, so it's the ideal time to start digging through his back catalogue.
Also, if nothing else, he's responsible for one of the weirdest TV appearances ever on NBC's morning show...
Who will enjoy it?
If you like electronic music that is interesting and challenging without being wilfully inaccessible (think along the lines of Caribou), this is well worth a spin.