Record Machine: Une Danse des Bouffons (A Jester’s Dance) by Marcel Dzama

Enclosed with The Believer Magazine’s 2014 Music Issue was a seven-inch record produced to coincide with a film by the same name: Une Danse Des Bouffons (A Jester’s Dance) by Marcel Dzama. The film will have its American premiere in September as a solo exhibition at New York’s David Zwirner Gallery, and this four song soundtrack makes me crave more.

Marcel Dzama - Un Danse des Bouffons Soundtrack

These instrumental songs are both spooky and purposeful — I can sense that there is a story behind the music. Here’s the official trailer and the description from the gallery’s site:

In this Dadaist love story Une danse des bouffons (or A jester’s dance), there are many recurring themes: death and rebirth, multiple identities and doppelgängers, false prophets, love and love lost, the corruption of power and fragility of what is real or true. Using a recreation of Marcel Duchamp’s Étant Donnés, a trickster of old mythology awakens Maria Martins (played by Kim Gordon and Hannelore Knuts) from the sculpture. She finds her lover (a captive Marcel Duchamp) forced to recite chess moves to an unknown game. So Maria must enter a deep rabbit hole to save her love.

Incorporating Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth fame) already adds a badass element to the film, but we’re here about the music itself. Having just a few minutes’ worth of songs effectively makes one desirous. There is forward momentum to the music, which manages to be simultaneously sparse and complex.

The last song, “Mischief Makes a Move,” ends with a perpetual rhythm — to make the record stop playing, one has to get up and remove the needle. It’s easy to get caught up in the sounds before suddenly realizing, Wait, for how long have I been sitting here listening to this? Mischief well played.

The Believer Music Issue 2014 (cover)

I really dig it when people create unusual multimedia art. By incorporating music, film, and avant-garde art concepts like Dada for a modern audience, it’s a fantastic nod to both the art history preceding the film and the love of creating an oddball spectacle. I’ve organized my fair share of purposely weird art and music events, and the reaction has mostly been “I don’t know what exactly is going on, but maybe I like it?”

And that’s another thing I enjoy about The Believer music issues themselves — the accompanying music is almost always something with which I’m unfamiliar, but it asks of its listeners, What else is out there? What more can we try?

Yes, let’s try this. Bring me more.

Marcel Dzama - Un Danse des Bouffons Soundtrack (back)
Music by Will Butler, Jeremy Gara, Tim Kingsbury, and Marcel Dzama

Red Side

Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold Me Down
A Waiting Room Number

Blue Side

The Beheading Blues
Mischief Makes a Move

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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