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Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

Daycones’ Dreamy, Drifting Psychedelia

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Photo credit: Justin Bacon.
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Over the last few years, Bandcamp and Soundcloud have made it possible to reconsider the form and context of an album. With local and national artists often releasing digital versions of their music before a physical copy is even a consideration, the amount and variety of music available on the Internet is sometimes overwhelming. It’s also had a positive impact on the amount of control artists have over how their work is presented and how they interact with their audience. I sat down for a short conversation with Ryan Janke, mastermind of Milwaukee’s psychedelic, folk-rock project Daycones at Foundation where we discussed what it’s like to be part of the first generation to grow up with the Internet in Wisconsin, reluctance to embrace social media and recording an album you didn’t really mean to record. All this is in light of the release of a new digital single, “Not Today,” and in anticipation of a tentative new album due out in early 2014.

“It was sort of like, ‘hit record and see what happens,’” Janke says of Daycones’ first album, Timescape Psalm, which was released digitally in August after Janke recorded it in his Riverwest apartment where he created a workspace by moving his bed into an unused pantry which he described as a “sleep pod.” And it definitely sounds like an album that was recorded in a bedroom. There’s a good amount of non-cohesive texture. The digital drums sound like they’re being recorded with a microphone in the next room over. What often starts as a song with a lot of melodic focus and plunky, surf-rock guitar riffs will wind up spiraling into a Pavement-style jam session. With all that in mind, the album itself is exceptionally complete and has all the sonic arcs one would expect from a full-length release.

The album’s second track, “Pickpocket Queen,” is perhaps the perfect example of Daycones’ current strengths and weaknesses. The song starts as a catchy ballad with a strong, creepy, voyeuristic daydream of a narrative about running away to “maybe someday stop our thieving, and settle into a cottage on a hill…sit in our garden, riches around us and admire what we built,” with Rosie, a pickpocket who “counts her earnings in the morning.” After about two minutes, the song collapses into a sprawling mess of psychedelic guitar noises and lines of non-sequitur inner dialogue of the narrator.

Janke, who’d been involved with Milwaukee’s punk and hardcore house show/play-anywhere you-can scene as a part of Lady, I’m a Peaceful Man, said that Daycones is the first project where he’s been able to explore different styles of music and found that a lot of his inspiration comes from the ’50s and ’60s rock music that he listened to when he was young. His vocal delivery, which was intended to sound like Roy Orbison, ends up somewhere closer to early Devendra Banhart, with lyrics that sometimes read like worldly, optimistic insights that a young Lou Reed might have found singing about junkies and prostitutes.

“Not Today,” which was also released on Soundcloud and Bandcamp, is a concentrated version of the sounds and ideas Janke explored on Timescape Psalm and is part of the 12 songs he’s currently working on for his as-of-yet untitled release. Janke explained that he’d like to have a cassette release of the recordings at some point in the future, but for now he’s satisfied with the digital releases which have been featured on national and international blogs and have even found radio play on Los Angeles’ 88.9 KXLU. Janke is looking forward to developing a more extensive local following and creating live multimedia performances of his work.

“Not Today” and Timescape Psalm are streaming at daycones.bandcamp.com.