As a cofounding member of Animal Collective, Joshua Dibb—better known for nearly twenty years by his nom de plume, Deakin—has made some of this century’s most imaginative albums. He helped build Animal Collective from the wondrous abstraction of their earliest records to the explosive pop madness of 2005’s Feels and 2007’s Strawberry Jam. The fluid ensemble’s most sporadic member, he returned both for 2012’s Centipede Hz and this year’s Tangerine Reef, set to be released just before this year’s Hopscotch. As at ease with arching melodies as he is teeming microcosms of noise, he is a central piece of connective tissue in Animal Collective, linking the highly sing-able to the high-minded.
Like most of his fellow members, Deakin has long explored his own impulses and ideas outside of Animal Collective. He played, for instance, the first Hopscotch, hidden away in a corner during a crowded set at Five Star. In 2016, Deakin finally emerged with his full-length debut, the wonderfully evocative Sleep Cycle. During its six songs, Deakin moves from the galloping, cricket-lined folk of “Golden Chords” to the submerged melodic mutations of “Seed Song.” Between those poles, he expertly balances extremes, making vivid pop songs that slip into and emerge from variegated beds of noise—blown-out drums and warped piano lines, demented loops and distorted synthesizers. Like Panda Bear’s Person Pitch or Avey Tare’s Down There, it’s equally intriguing as a standalone listen and as a glimpse behind the scenes at one our generation’s most innovative bands.