Dan Deacon’s ebullient electronic escapades teeter precariously over a chasm of well-intentioned absurdity and shrill chipmunk cries. That it never descends into outright buffoonery is a testament to the man’s cunning; I’m sure anyone arguing otherwise has long forgotten the joys of being a sugar-enthralled youngster. Combined with visual antics courtesy of Jimmy Joe Roche (both are of Baltimore ‘s Wham City Collective), the effect is unstoppable, capitulating to the wild exuberance of child-like dance revelry. Consider it the audio/visual equivalent of simultaneously smoking crack and chewing handfuls of psychedelic mushrooms.
At the adrenaline-injected heart of Ultimate Reality pulses the nod-wink-smile recognition of just what these two are really up to. Deconstructing a bevy of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most violent gore-fests from the ’80s and ’90s, Roche assembles the most appalling/disturbing/weird montage imaginable, mirrors the clips and shuffles layer upon ridiculous layer. But not before saturating it all in the deepest vat of LSD-25 and flashing neon. Deacon’s predictably unusual, always emphatic composition gurgles alongside all this disorientation and is more or less an ideal accompaniment.
Just when you think the insanity will ebb, a drooling Predator pops his head into the melee to have a look around. For any child of the ’80s, the sheer nostalgic value is practically magnetic. Anyone else who’s ever seen a movie starring Arnold will immediately recognize the audacity of naming this experience Ultimate Reality. But then, that’s probably the point. Deacon and Roche would be far from the first to point and laugh at the escapist allure of the cinema; their aspirations seemingly lie elsewhere. They’re content to be ironic, in a post-modern way, pointing and laughing while the whole thing goes up in flames. (For those so inclined, the two will be taking this circus on the road at the beginning of 2008)
I imagine this experiment working best turned on at a party and relegated to the background, leaving inebriated guests to wander toward the flashing lights and wacky music and left to ask, in a stupor, “What the hell is this?” Tail-ended with a video for Deacon’s “Crystal Cat” (from Spiderman of the Rings) and an unnamed performance in which Deacon (face-wrapped in streamers) plays keyboards and sings while Roche dances erratically in a pink jumpsuit, there is not a moment in it’s 40-minute duration that Ultimate Reality won’t raise eyebrows, or at the very least, induce some sort of unexplained dance fever. Epileptics need not apply.