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Dan Deacon - Acorn Master

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Artist: Dan Deacon

Album: Acorn Master

Label: Psych-o-Path

Review date: Aug. 30, 2006

Childhood as wistful innocence has been replaced by the more fitting thematic of pointless panic attacks and paroxysms of garbled speech. Dan Deacon’s latest owes more to overmedication, a hyperactive imagination, and maybe parents whose intense fear of the suburban outdoors has restricted the coming-of-age process to a few fully carpeted rooms. Better to stick your fingers in the electrical sockets than decode the majesty of the natural world.

Acorn Master is nearly unlistenable, the effect being about the same as having that imaginary kid asking you a series of increasingly annoying questions over a period of 20 minutes. By the end, half of you is amused and the other half wants to tear the bastard’s tongue out.

“Two Friends” leads off with two minutes of two complementary synth riffs in slightly different time signatures, split between the right and left channels. The tone is grainy Casio, one bass and one treble, somewhere between demented Nintendo prog and MIDI versions of techno classics.

Live, Deacon’s shtick is weirdly contagious. Inexplicably, his conniptions and spasms tend to lead to more mutual tremors. On Acorn Master, the Casio drum beats and raspy four-note melodies are more likely to cause a headache than a dance party. On “Moses vs. Predator,” the choice riff, pushed to the point of collapsing by signal processing, can only be described as unbearable. Deacon speaks and screams and mutters, oblivious of his environment, or happily at odds with it.

“It’s My Fault” takes the New Orleans blues to the Bar Mitzvah floor for a slow dance. The song devolves into Deacon crooning with the sincerity of a robot with its empathy circuits bent: “All I want to know / Now I want to know…” We never find out exactly what, as the song is interrupted by a few seconds of vintage “Beavis and Butthead” chortling, which welcomes a Chipmunks-style cover of “Splish Splash (I was taking a bath).” The cartoons take it from there.

By Alexander Provan

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