Globe Hall Presents Dan Deacon on Friday, December 1st.
How do you make something solid, beautiful, and built to last in a time of cultural chaos and personal doubt? With Mystic Familiar, Dan Deacon gives us the stunning 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.
Mystic Familiar’s opening track “Become a Mountain” immediately announces itself as something new, for the first time ever on record presenting Dan’s natural singing voice, unprocessed and with only minimal accompaniment. When Deacon proclaims “I rose up” here, it is Dan Deacon singing in the first person as Dan Deacon — a startlingly vulnerable shift in a songbook abundant with characters, metaphors, and distorted vocals. As other ornate voices answer this unadorned I, we’re introduced to the album’s central concept and titular character: the Mystic Familiar, that 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. “Hypnagogic” takes us deeper into Deacon’s mind, a synth swirl similar to those which have begun his recent performances, absorbing the pulse of the room and extending that abstract moment in which a journey begins.
From there, Mystic Familiar takes a propulsive leap with the robotic drums and soaring melodies of “Sat By a Tree,” lyrically conjuring both a campfire gathering of friends reflecting on key memories with the hard-won clarity of time (“It may only last a moment, but a moment can last a lifetime in your mind”) and a dialogue with an anthropomorphic tree that asks “What would you cast into existence if you contained the persistence to unwind?” Deacon’s personal, freeing answer comes by the song’s end, in the cathartic acts of declaring a creative work finished and sharing it with others — even while knowing “It is out of my control what this world wants there to be told of me in time.”
More than just a complete, polished, and satisfying record in an era of sound bites and disposability, Mystic Familiar is Dan Deacon’s first record in which each song was built around one thematic throughline, a meticulously realized landmark in a discography already marked by rich imagination and layered perfectionism. Mystic Familiar captures an established artist mindfully evolving his music from its playful beginnings to encompass a prismatic cosmos of quantum dimensionality. It’s as addictive to listen to as it was for Deacon to work on — a Mystic Familiar transmitted directly from Deacon’s mind to ours, a conversion of self-doubt into an enduring creative work which we can now carry with us in our ears wherever life takes us.