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Thursday, January 17, 2008

And now, for the Year 2008: Dan Deacon & Jimmy Joe Roche’s Ultimate Reality

posted by on January 17 at 10:56 AM


Ultimate Reality (DVD)


Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche’s new multimedia workout, Ultimate Reality, is something of an endurance test. Just how much slow-mo, stroboscopic, mirror-image, split-screen, digitally psychedelicized Arnold Schwarzenegger can you take? Forty minutes? How about if they throw in some synth drones, ring modulator freak-outs, and tribal-by-way-of–Wham City drumming?

The DVD jacks footage from the Governator’s films, editing them into a loose narrative that conflates his more macho roles (the Terminator, Conan) with those less so (Kindergarten Cop, Junior), in the hope of establishing a “dominant pansexual ubermyth.” Two sets of scrolling intertitles confuse plot points from various films (even non-Schwarzenegger joint Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) to create a story—involving time traveling, robots, a “man-womb,” Bill and Ted’s history report—for all the unintelligible visual chaos.

There are roughly five musical movements. The first is a slow warm-up, all droning toy keyboards and acoustic drums. The second adds a slow chord progression, slide whistles, and snatches of gibberish chatter. The third adds a playful xylophone melody and turns the chatter into a rhythmic element. The fourth begins with cheap, plastic synth funk, fluttering arpeggios, and a lazy backbeat before erupting into swirling modulation and swaggering saw waves. Finally, there’s an endlessly peaking 16th-note synth-and-drum buildup.

The bonus material includes a made-in-the-mall green-screen music video for Deacon’s “The Crystal Cat” and an outtake of a crepe paper–covered Deacon playing keyboard and singing in some bedroom in front of a “Kill ‘Em All” flag while Roche dances around behind him in a magenta bodysuit and sunglasses.

The debt owed by Deacon and Roche to Paper Rad and TV Carnage is, at times, irksome—especially because Ultimate Reality seems like the C-student, class-clown imitation of those artists’ crackpot-genius culture jacking, more ironic gesture than innovative substance. This DVD will be a treat for Deacon’s dollar-store acolytes, but it’s ultimately a novelty, good for a couple viewings and visual background noise but not much else.

(Dan Deacon’s Ultimate Reality Tour Hits Neumo’s on Sunday, Jan 20th)

RSS icon Comments


I saw the Ultimate Reality tour last night. It works much better in a live setting. Here's my review.

Posted by segal | January 17, 2008 8:15 PM


Posted by Eric Grandy | January 18, 2008 8:50 AM

It must just not translate well to the DVD. The show was off the chain.

Posted by kfo | January 22, 2008 9:58 PM

Word, Grandy.

Fuck this Dan Deacon and the stupid gimmick that he calls music. Total garbage. I haven't seen the live show or been subjected to the movie, but mad props for doing so yourself.

Posted by TheVoiceOfReason | January 23, 2008 10:49 PM

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