Dan Deacon
Mystic Familiar



In over a decade of innovations and outside-the-lines musical thinking, we have never quite got to hear Dan Deacon’s voice. I’m not talking about the intangible representation of his creative character, but his actual, literal voice. Whenever the Baltimore experimentalist’s larynx-based vibrations have been captured, it has been after some process of distortion or obfuscation, to fit with the strange, orchestrated artificiality of the alien worlds in which his records reside.

Settle in, then, for opening track ‘Become a Mountain’ here; a new frontier in the Deacon oeuvre. The first words nakedly sung by Deacon are, “I rose up, tired in my flesh.” It’s an attention-grabber. “On this day before me,” he continues, “will I seize it or scroll?” Suddenly we have an impossibly tangled mind spilling over with candour, and it takes some addressing. He goes on to introduce the titular ‘Mystic Familiar’, which Deacon suggests is a bodiless other figure that exists inside, or alongside, our own consciousness that only we can access. It binds the album’s eleven tracks together and offers Deacon a device to allow him to expand on matters of aging, loss and doubt.

The centrepiece is a four-part suite entitled ‘Arp’ that reflects a life cycle, taking the listener from a youth of blinking possibility, through the learning and repetition of maturity, to the uncertainty at the end of the road. The darting, clattering vivacity of the synths of the suite’s first half is rugby-tackled by the squirling chaos of Andrew Bernstein’s saxophone and the latter half’s pounding nervousness of sub-bass rhythms. This is abstract storytelling of fairly high order and could exist as a release all of its own.

Matters of mortality return with album highlight ‘Fell Into the Ocean’, wherein our narrator and/or the Mystic Familiar are subsumed into the water’s cycle of life, soundtracked by synths that are now at peace and conjure beauty and wonder rather than fear or dread. Lead single ‘Sat By a Tree’ finds Deacon conversing in existential philosophy with said tree, as washes of electric ambience are propelled into dancing shapes by a galloping rhythm, almost evoking Stereolab. Moods shift significantly throughout Mystic Familiar, but the themes are constant. Dan Deacon has let us into his mind for the first time and it has only compounded his mystique.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.