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With Mystic Familiar, Dan gives us the result of years of obsessive work, play, and self-discovery. It’s at once his most emotionally open record and his most transcendent, 11 kaleidoscopic tracks of majestic synth-pop that exponentially expand his sound with unfettered imagination and newfound vulnerability.
Since 2015’s Gliss Riffer, Deacon has branched out into an array of collaborative projects including film scores to Rat Film, HBO’sWell Groomed, ESPN’s30 for 30: Subject to Review; collaborating with the NYCBallet’s resident choreographer Justin Peck, LAPhil and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
While fulfilling, these projects lacked Dan’s singing voice. In the midst of that whirlwind of activity, he returned whenever he could to a personal oasis—the songs that would become Mystic Familiar, informed by all these collaborations but built from within. Deacon’s writing took an exploratory new direction developed with therapeutic practices of self-compassion and mindfulness, daily prompts from Brian Eno’s deck of Oblique Strategies and the use of meditation. These techniques produced songs that paint life as a psychedelic journey brimming with bliss and disruption, darkness and light.
It’s a vulnerable shift in a songbook abundant with characters, metaphors, and modulations. This voice-focused album is also the first record in which each song was built around one central concept—the Mystic Familiar, a supernatural other being that we carry with us everywhere in our head, which only we can hear and with whom we live our lives in eternal conversation.
Mystic Familiar takes a propulsive leap with the robot-performed drums and soaring melodies of “Sat By a Tree.” Lyrically, the song conjures campfire reflections on key memories with the hard-won clarity of time, a dialogue with an anthropomorphic tree on chilling out, and befores and afters of life and death. The video, directed by Daren Rabinovitch offilm and animation studioEncyclopedia Pictura and starring comedian Aparna Nancherla, uses natural world elements, vivid colors, and a cartoon-like aesthetic to reflect on time and the precious shortness of life (not for those with an aversion to bugs).
Barry says: 2015's 'Glass Riffer' didn't some off my turntable for quite some time, and i'm pretty sure this will meet the same fate. Huge swathes of synth and bright percussives shine through below the off-piste vocals and chaotic bitcrushed scree. It's marvellous, and completely insane.
1. Become A Mountain
3. Sat By A Tree
4. Arp I: Wide Eyed
5. Arp II: Float Away
6. Arp III: Far From Shore
7. Arp IV: Any Moment
8. Weeping Birch
9. Fell Into The Ocean
10. My Friend
11. Bumble Bee Crown King