I met Madeline Malka back in the days when we were both regular Dr. Frank-N-Furters in the River Oaks Rocky Horror Picture Show cast, and she's always been a bit... off. Lovely girl, talented to boot, but hanging out with her is sort of like hosting a rave inside an Escher painting.
She went on to have many artistic, globe-spanning adventures, but I've made it a point to check in with her every now and then, and when she mentioned she'd made a music video I got out the tinfoil hat and dove right in.
Her latest endeavor is called Masters of Fate, an Austin artistic partnership with Ryan Fitzpatrick. They mostly make bizarre crafts, such as purse mirrors with a picture of Hitler dressed as Ronald McDonald on the back, or Pac-Man ghost coffee table that I really wish I'd known about when I penned a shoppers guide to video game living room furniture.
However, when Apartments.com asked for video submissions in their annual Roommate of the Year Contest, they busted out some techno beats and Malka hit the mike to try and win $10,000.
The result is "Techno Serenade," and it whether it counts as a song, a beat poem or a wacky bit of performance art I couldn't tell you. The backing sounds like was lifted from the sound card of an old Simon, but the real find is in the overblown melodrama of Malka's monotone recitation illustrating Fitzpatrick's amazingness as a lodger.
Think of it as a beatnik domestic version of Roddy Von Seldeneck's "Totally Goth" or King Missile's "Jesus Was Way Cool."
"Techno Serenade' is our philosophical treatise, our 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra,' in video music form," says Malka via email. "It features the Übermensch questioning what it is to be alive. He engages with nature and the material world, craft, and creation. He creates beautiful art-music to uplift those living with him in house, and on earth.
"It is through deep engagement with this corporeal, ephemeral world that he finds ecstasy; as he twirls in greenery, he sees that he has answered the question of life through the power of his living," she adds. "He is excellent to live with, as he is truly alive."
See? Told you she was odd. Fitzpatrick, who is dressed like General Custer for some goddamn reason, nurtures the fragile ecosystem of Austin by watering cacti, paints a mural on the wall to illustrate the death of television, and even elicits a tear from Malka by offering her yet more techno than already provided. Then he makes champagne lemonade from the tears.
But the whole thing is delivered in some bizarre, Dadist package that just defies all understanding. One minute Fitzpatrick is making a hipster glasses organizer, then boom, Malka's assuring us that we'll live through the apocalypse.
It's shot wonderfully, with brilliant angles, bright colors, and a real sense of professional filmmaking style, but it's what they're filming that just boggles the mind. They've turned a silly contest into a snark-filled exploration of what it means to be alive.
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"I simply thought of a very sad clown who had no one to entertain," says Malka
Did I mention she's weird? I want to make sure that I got that across. Check it out here.