Dan Friel : Valedictorian/Exoskeleton EP

Jeff Terich

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Conjuring up a gloriously melodic din is kind of Dan Friel‘s thing. He spends the bulk of his time twisting the sound of guitars into distorted electronic mis-shapes as a member of Parts & Labor. And as a solo artist, he does essentially the same thing, only without the full-band approach to back him up. And yet, that doesn’t keep his chiptune-on-steroids electro jams any less ebullient or deafening. Friel is just as capable of splitting eardrums and churning viscera with hyperactive laptop jams as he is with a rock band, which is worthy of applause in itself.

Friel’s battery-acid beats continue to sear and corrode on his new Valedictorian/Exoskeleton EP for Thrill Jockey, exploding with the kind of absurdist glee more famously displayed by Baltimore weirdo king Dan Deacon. In fact, squint and “Valedictorian,” an all-cylinders-firing Gameboy deathray of a song, could even be mistaken for Deacon. “Exoskeleton” is a little less manic; electronic pulses and shards of feedback make for an even more compelling electro piece, noisy without being confrontational, and atmospheric without being passive.

Remixed, Friel’s haywire electro-monsters are given a nuance and depth that generally doesn’t reveal itself as readily among his orgies of overdrive. The Moss of Aura remix of “Exoskeleton” has a chill, Balearic vibe about it, danceably stoned and heady. Peaking Lights’ 12-minute reworking of “Ulysses” is far weirder and more exciting, however, popping and flexing within the context of Friel’s shrill keyboard sounds rather than fighting against them. It’s a reminder of how versatile Friel’s approach is, even if it seems initially off-putting or a bit too much for the senses. Noise, particularly that as tightly controlled as Friel’s, is beautiful.

Similar Albums:
Dan Deacon – America
Parts & Labor – Stay Afraid
Black Dice – Mr. Impossible

Stream: Dan Friel – “Valedictorian”

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