The Mars Volta Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of) Lyrics & Meaning – Journey Through the Train Yard

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The article reveals my interpretation of the lyrics of ‘Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of) which is track 3 on the De-Loused In The Comatorium album by The Mars Volta. The album is an hour long tragedy about a man named Cerpin Taxt (get the overview of the story here).

The Haunt of Roulette Dares is Cerpin Taxt’s journey through the Comatorium’s Train Yard.

In this chapter of the story, Cerpin awakes inside a substance that is similar to a cocoon. He emerges from the cocoon, and looks outside to see that he is in an old Train yard.

He goes outside and asks the homeless men for a place to rest.

The Vagrants dare him to go and sleep in the haunted Train called the “Roulette Dares”. He refuses, but gives in after they jaunt and jeer him.

After falling asleep, a creature of unknown origin sneaks up on Cerpin, and attacks him. Then the train starts up and takes him on a violent journey. At the very end, Cerpin has a vision of himself in his mother’s arms, trying to comfort him.


The Lyrics Interpretation

The song starts with a Spanish phrase that describes Cerpin’s Setting

Transient jet lag ecto mimed bison

This line is referring to the feeling that Cerpin has inside the cocoon, similar to Jet lag. The Ecto mimed bison is referring to the train cars, as they look similar to Bison. Thus they are “miming” the Bison.

Cerpin says “Ruse of metacarpi, Caveat Emptor….to all that enter here”. “Caveat emptor” is a Latin phrase meaning “Buyer beware”. He is saying to beware of “The house of Tremula metacarpi”, who has crafted a plan (Ruse) for Taxt to be here.

He continues his story and says:

Open wrist talk back again
In the wounded of its skin
They’ll pinprick the witness in ritual contrition

With these words Cerpin is describing what happens to him in the Train yard.

As he goes to sleep in his boxcar (The Roulette Dares), a creature (unspecific as to what) sneaks in to hurt him. Even the walls close in on him as he struggles against the intense lacerations presented to him. When he says “In Ritual Contrition” he is saying how this is part of his punishment sentenced by the Unhydriate. The following lines describe the creatures stealthy journey to Cerpin’s Boxcar:

Made its way through the tracks of a snail slouching whisper
A half-ass commute through umbilical blisters
Spectre will lurk
Radar has gathered

The Spectre’s intent to hurt is shown when he says “Midnight Neuces” which is referring to when men are hung by the neck, even though it is spelled differently (correct spelling is Nooses).

Midnight neuces from boxcar cadavers

At the time he is attacked, the train starts up and begins it own violent journey, with Cerpin inside.


The Music

The Song Begins with the softness of a wah-wah guitar going up and down, the echoing of the snare drum, and the hi-hat keeping a solid beat. This part of the song shows Cerpin wrapped up in the cocoon, like there is something blocking you from hearing the music fully.

As Cerpin pulls himself out of the cocoon, the song becomes frantic. It is deeply satisfying.

And as quickly as it burst out, the song quiets down. Presumably this is the part where Cerpin is looking for rest. With the only very slightly distorted guitar in the background, it creates a very soothing atmosphere.

Then comes the Chorus.

My favorite part about the Chorus is the guitar harmony. Because Omar uses the guitar….. as if it was not a guitar at all. He uses a single guitar (not to say there aren’t more, just in this specific harmony) that harmonizes with itself. It is apparent that much thought was put into each and every note, and it just makes you feel…..nice. When you hear the chords played you know that something about the sound is really different, unique.

After another Verse, the song falls down into a Bridge. This would be the part where Cerpin is introduced to the train. To help put it into perspective, imagine this. Imagine this part, except in a movie. Now Cerpin sees the train, the Hitchcock movie effect happens (the really creepy one where the background seems to get very close) and then the bridge plays. It makes sense if you try it.

The song continues, and after another Verse and Chorus, the song becomes quiet again. This is where Cerpin makes an attempt to fall asleep. From here, it slowly builds. It creates the anticipation of the monster stalking him to attack. And as the monster jumps in the boxcar to attack and the train leaves, the song takes off again.

The song ends with the softness of a woman’s touch, as Cerpin now has his vision and is being held in his mother’s arms. Thus Ending the Haunt of Roulette Dares.


Full Roulette Dares Lyrics

Transient jet lag ecto mimed bison
This is the haunt of roulette dares
Ruse of metacarpi
Caveat emptor….to all that enter here

Open wrist talk back again
In the wounded of its skin
They’ll pinprick the witness
In ritual contrition
The am trinity fell upon asphyxia-derailed
In the rattles of…
Made its way through the tracks
Of a snail slouching whisper
A half-ass comute through umbilical blisters
Spector will lurk
Radar has gathered
Midnight neuces from boxcar cadavears

Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed
Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed
It’s because this is

Cranial bleeding
Leaches train the living
Cursed are they who speak its name
Ruse of metacarpi
Caveat emptor to all that enter here

Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed
Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed
It’s because this is

Rattling the laughter
Hinges splintering inside
Bludgeoned to a saddle
Rang the cloister bell inside

Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed
Exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed
It’s because this is

Next, get thrown to the spiders in Tira Me a Las Aranas.


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I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story. If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O’Neil’s home cooking and eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham. Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat McDonald’s at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy.