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Technicolor Schwarzenegger: Dan Deacon's new eyeball-scrambling DVD 

Wednesday, Jan 16 2008

On Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche's new Ultimate Reality DVD, a montage of tie-dye electro-coustic compositions and vintage Arnold Schwarzenegger film footage runs through a thermal filter. This audiovisual collaboration by the Wham City art collective members is a one-trick pony with a Technicolor saddle, but it's also a ride saturated with moments of blustering energy throughout its coltish sonics and splayed imagery.

There must be a round of electric Kool-Aid acid tests circulating in the dance music industry. Within a year of Daft Punk's "psychedelic odyssey," Electroma, which saw electronic composers exploring pervasive emptiness, Deacon and Roche have pursued the opposite track. Instead of pregnant pauses, they offer live births of inverted visuals and equally kaleidoscopic melody.

Of course, this comes as little surprise to those who know Deacon's work, most recently captured on 2007's Spiderman of the Rings. Deacon traffics in unadulterated, interactive, and highly developed juvenilia. He treats analog electronics like a child does a mud puddle — they are for splattering — and Deacon is like the remote control monster truck kicking up eight-bit neon sediment everywhere. Like his contemporary Girl Talk, but without the reliance on conventional pop hooks, Deacon is of a laptop-rock generation that wants to get in the middle of the crowd and give it babbling drum fills and helium-pitched synth squiggles. He aims for an effect-pedal-addled show that's not electronica, but rather elec-sauna-ca.

This 40-minute DVD does its best to project that mindset of psychedelic splices, injected with the occasional pan-and-drone pensiveness. One thing Ultimate Reality doesn't convey, however, is any correlation to reality. Its images of Terminator, Predator, Conan, and even Kindergarten Cop could be used to make statements on society and politics, but instead they just form lysergic loops. I'll offer up the stretch that perhaps the mere existence of this film proves that global warming is real and has slightly fried some indie art-rock brains; otherwise, Ultimate Reality just spoon-feeds the faithful some stroboscopic camp. Still, for those who love this new generation of rock 'n' rolls, there are worse camps in which to pitch a tent.

About The Author

Tony Ware


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