mick mercer -
5 Tales From God-Only-Knows
I confess I am far more interested by this notion of Steampunk than any of the new Art-Punk notions circulating, as that is something I’ve encountered many times before and represents a simple continuation by a new and enthused generation, which will usher in plenty of good bands but Steampunk represents the taking of a historical phase and bending it into new, beneficial shapes as it suits people. It has every reason to throw up interesting sounds, shifts in emphasis and utilising grand thematic imagery in intriguing ways. A smaller scene, but with bigger, falsified, illusions.
This CD certainly comes with enchanting imagery and fine attention to detail, before embarking on a sonorous Goth stroll in ‘Black Iron Road’ but with a chilly metallic beat which is like old school Industrial thrown into new surrounds, which is the paint, after all. Strings add extra sinews to the foul and visual lyrics. This is misery delivered with passion and a brooding defeatism which is a tough juggling act, the music flowing like a puddle of blood and tar.
‘Mr. Soot’s Little Black Book’ seeps like early indie electro, and celebrates a sordid trade in filthy conditions, and it’s got a creepy 70’s resonance too somehow. ‘Open Arms, Empty Air’ seems closer to a romanticised Goth-Industrial feel, the mildly jaunty skipping rhythm enjoying the vocals deftly stepping strictly in time with the mood keeping to considered desperation as we anticipate (I assume) a suicide form a train? ‘Skeleton Goes To Town’ shifts shiftily, with a rakish delivery and another throttled pop memory, the ghastly character portrayed with classy, inventively jumpy lyrical trysts and shouty/furtive choruses. Demented, threatening and fun, especially with elegant strings strewn about.
‘Ants Under Glass’ creeps into the sun light like a heavenly chorus but then as the tale of a doomed survivor spews out it’s the pattering metallic beat again I the background which gives it a cute difference, as the stylish, skilfully appointed vocals sweep you along which include the ‘death is coming’ promise which adds ominous undertones to a gorgeously sweeping tune or righteous murkiness that is perfectly matched by the invigorating, alarming words.
Fantastic, on all fronts.
http://www.myspace.com/unextraordinarygentlemen (live vid in blog)
You mean, back when "industrial" didn't mean drum machines and bleepy things, but people actually beating the shit out of metal things with hammers? Goodness!
Well, this isn't like that, as there’s no resounding clanging, just the clarion call of a rhythm with a metallic ring. Modern Industrial is so often just posh rock with knobs on it’s dull bordering on terminal, whereas old Industrial at least stood at a new frontier, gazing forward with a determined sense of glee – most of which I thought sounded horrible. Today's Industrial people are too often looking to fuse club potential with some upgraded Lez Zep riffs or similar rock standards, all lurching forward in a thoroughly unspectacular fashion. Metal Lite, with techno-effects, seems to be the surely unintended result.
Steampunk can harness the ethos of quaint Industrial themes. It's interesting. The spirit of adventure, like bands invading the Great Exhibition.
Steampunk, though, doesn't really have a "sound" as such. It comes originally from literary roots and then has been translated into a fashion and cult of sorts. All the bands that have in someway been associated with the steampunk label don't really have a common sound that could be said to be steampunk but rather a look and ethos.
That's why it's exciting - an umbrella of source material exists, but they're running off beneath on lubricated tangents, with serious thought behind their projects, I'd imagine.