Mystic Familiar is an intense and beautiful journey of an album. By weaving synth-heavy beats with ethereal lyrics, Dan Deacon evokes a sense of bewitching and captivating sci-fi grandeur which leaves the listener reeling.
The album opens with Become a Mountain, an understated song with layering pianos and breathy lyrics. Almost Bowie-esque, it is a subtle and technically impressive beginning, easing the listener in to the world of the music. In Become a Mountain, the motif of machine-like frenetic noise paired with almost floral, classical instrumentation which is seen throughout the whole album is expertly introduced.
The next track, the instrumental Hypnagogic has more of a fantasy feel, like Star Trek meets Lord of the Rings there is a sense of disrupted nature. This is followed by Sat By A Tree which brings in elements of rock, with fast paced drums and rock riffs heightening the pace and creating a sense of anxiety which drives the album forward and solidifies the fact that there is never a dull or idle moment in the entirety of Mystic Familiar.
The four-part Arp suite is where Mystic Familiar truly takes on a life of its own. Launching from the glitchy and staticy tones of Wide Eyed to the 8bit synth of Float Away and the cacophony of warring sirens, beeps and sonic whirs of Any Moment, it is a truly gripping and thorough assault on the senses.
The vocals are eerie and intriguing throughout the whole album, always drifting just out of focus, swamped by the wealth of other sounds the listener has to strain to make out the lyrics. This is most clear with the two voices on Fell Into The Ocean where the repeating instructions and explanation such as “dig deep” and “the water deep down is safe enough to drink” are fascinatingly hypnotic and almost meditative.
Similarly, in Arp II, the command of “close your eyes, drift away” is at once relaxing and menacing in the context of the angry, fuzzy backing. It’s very easy to do just as the song says and lose yourself in the maniacal, magical world of the music.
Mystic Familiar is at once surprising, varied and cohesive. The shift from the frantic, jazzy screeching of Arp III: Far from Shore to the dreamy, instrumental, string-heavy Weeping Birch shows a mastery of different styles and forms of music as well as the impressive ability to meld and blend duelling and conflicting sounds to create a momentous expedition of a musical experience.
Dan Deacon’s latest release is above all utterly compelling. Moving from track to track or simply dipping in to a single song the listener is completely immersed in a different world; one of repeated falsetto mantras, whirring machines and dreamy wispy tones, all of which function to create a fascinating and utterly enjoyable album.