The experimental rocker went from discovering classical albums in a dumpster to playing Carnegie Hall.

Baltimore composer, electronics wizard and all-round rocker Dan Deacon has released a highly charged, minimalist-is-the-new-maximalist record, America, out now on Domino. Here he selects the contemporary classical music that shaped his own musical style and ideology.



Dan Deacon: Desert Island Discs



Harry PartchDelusion Of The Fury: A Ritual Of Dream And Delusion


Harry Partch, Various Musicians
Innova 726708640620 


Meredith Monk

Turtle Dreams

Julius Eastman, Steve Lockwood, Robert Een, Andrea Goodman, Collin Walcott, Meredith Monk, Paul Langland
ECM 8115472

I found both of these records in the dumpster of my college library. The first hearing of both of them was completely unreal. I had never heard anything even remotely similar to their sounds. The artwork that accompanied them was also very inspiring and knowing that the performances of the pieces were just vitally important to both the composers got me so fired up.



Edgar Varèse
Arcana, Amériques, Ionisation

Royal Concertgebouw/Chailly, ASKO Ensemble

The work of Varèse was the some of the first work I had to study when I was a freshman composition student. i remember being amazed about how so much of his work was destroyed either by fires (or by the him) and the fact that his complete works could fit on two CDs was amazing to me. To have such influence with such a small body of work is amazing.


Iannis Xenakis
Chamber Music 1955-1990

Arditti Quartet
Montaigne MO782137

Just the most amazing music ever.



Jean-Claude Camors


Strates (1988)

Jean-Claude Camors v, voc, keyboards, Denis Barbier sax, Armand Amar perc

LZ 479

I used to “work” at  a record store in Baltimore called The True Vine. It’s a small shop that tends to focus exclusively on the obscure. This record came in one day and Jason, the shop owner, put it on the stereo and it totally blew me away. For the past two years it’s been one of the records I listen to most.





Charles DodgeEarth’s Magnetic Field

Sounds produced at the Columbia University Computer Centre
Nonesuch H-71250

After getting into Daft Punk’s Discovery, I wanted to hear early work for vocoder, which lead me to the vocal/computer music of Charles Dodge. His work has something lacking in a lot of academic art music of the 20th century: humour.


Terry Riley
Cadenza On The Night Plain

Kronos Quartet
Gramavision 187014

I’ve been a huge fan of Riley for some time but only heard this quartet in the last few years. My friend/roommate Sam Herring of Future Islands brought the record home one day. There aren’t a lot of pieces for string quartet that really excite me and I was nervous about this album because a lot of Riley’s later work doesn’t really do it for me, but this album really captivated me and I go back and revisit it for inspiration often.


Terry Riley
A Rainbow In Curved Air (1967) 

Terry Riley Various instruments on tape loop
Esoteric Records ECLEC2306

This record, more than any other on the list, changed the way  I thought about myself and my music. I was in college and when I heard this – it justified to me the fact that i could be the sole performer of my music and that i didn’t need to focus on writing music for other people (something that was the bane of my existence at the time). I think it’s one of the most important crossover pieces between art music and pop music ever made, if not the most important.


Steve Reich

So Percussion
Canteloupe CA21026

I didn’t really sink my teeth into this piece until I became friends with So Percussion. Their performances of the piece brought it to new levels of blood-pumping excitement for me. After I first saw them perform it in December 2008 I started listening to the piece almost non-stop and its brillance has yet to fade.



Philip Glass
Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Philip Glass Ensemble
Nonesuch 7559795062

When I first saw and heard Koyaanisqatsi it was both amazingly inspiring and soul-crushing. It was the piece of art I always wanted to make but never new existed. I’m just glad Glass never wrote for rock drummers or I’d be totally fucked. And if he has please show me… I could use another paradigm shift.