It’s been a rough couple of months for Randolph Chabot, a/k/a Deastro. On September 11, he tweeted that his whole band had quit, less than a week before their impending UK tour. He sighed, packed a book about string theory he’d been meaning to get to, and did the shows himself. They went okay. Upon arriving home in Detroit, he screwed up his courage, dove straight into a bunch of new songs, reconstructed his live set, tweeted “Not twittering,” and prepared himself for a redemptive US tour to promote his newly dropped Moondagger (Ghostly International). Then he fell down the stairs carrying a couch and smashed his finger.
“It’s broken. Now I have to rewrite everything again, pretty much.”
Chabot, who’s home for a few clutch days before hitting the road again (and coming to Great Scott this Tuesday), sounds almost charged up by this development, as if he’d always dealt with worse. According to his last (as in, perhaps, final) tweet, the fateful tumble occurred sometime after 3 am, following a viewing of Suspiria with the guys from Neon Indian, so what exactly was happening with that couch is anyone’s guess. I’d rather press for details on his recording career — a dense, unreleased catalogue of hundreds of songs spanning an entire decade.
That career started when he was 12 and a friend gave him a copy of Techno eJay. With the software program’s slight library of pre-recorded samples, its basic synthesis, and its crude matrix generator, he spent a whole year “freaking out” and programming a chunk of precocious trance — if such a thing is possible. This wasn’t all. He was playing guitar, singing in choirs at church, playing punk covers of cheesy pop tunes with his brother (when they weren’t trying to be the Danielson Famile), and taking over the basement of the house.
“We were home-schooled,” he says. “So it was either The Price Is Right or work on art projects.” These projects accumulated into hundreds of demos, 37 of which ended up on the CD-R with which he wooed Michigan multiform label Ghostly International. Although he points out that his exposure to Detroit’s lean but crucial underground legacies (from its pioneering warehouse techno to its formative basement punk) was limited throughout his teens, his music sounds like the result of years of natural absorption — which includes the city’s current streak of psych and prog.
Moondagger’s tracks have a bright-eyed exuberance we don’t often hear from Michigan. “Toxic Crusader” clambers through a gritty synth swamp before springing into a post-punk skip and spreading big, glittery, dance-pop wings. The moody “Vermillion Plaza” has an adrenalized Psychedelic Furs vibe atop skittering arpeggios. A revamped take of “The Shaded Forest” — an acid-inflected pop-rock sweet spot from his 2008 digital-only Keepers — has the force of . . . well, a band who’re about to storm out.
“I was desperate to make a connection with those guys as musicians, but it just didn’t click. We’re still friends,” Chabot says with a brief mournful note. “It’s kind of like a relationship or whatever.”