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Take-That, Lady Gaga, and why I haven’t done any reviews recently…

For those of you that have followed this blog thus far (that’s right I’m on about you three!) you would have noticed that despite my ‘One review a week’ aim, things have been very quite for a while now. Let me explain myself.

Writing, or rather writing regularly and objectively, always makes me feel good. What with University just around the corner (again! :D) it was good for me to get into the writing mood again. The reviews were a great medium to write creatively about things that mattered to me. After my last review I had a number of ideas about albums to review. But then something amazing happened. I started to write prose.

As soon as I got back from work every day I would write until I couldn’t stay awake. And you know what? I’m still writing. I’ve tried to write novels before (who hasn’t right?) but after about three thousand words I’d get bored with the concept, the characters, everything. I’d forget about it all completely. Then I stumbled across something I had started to write about a year ago, I read it with fresh eyes so to speak, it was pretty damn good. So I carried it on. I revived the characters, the plot. I designed the world with more detail and I got stuck in.

I have never felt this way about writing before. It’s like a story is clawing its way out of me. Half the time I don’t even think about what I’m writing. I sit down and let my mind wander and before I know it plot arcs are forming, characters are developing, all seemingly without me thinking about it. It’s a weird feeling. The words are flowing from my mind without any trouble whatsoever. And as it stands I’m nearing 50,000 words and it’s all happened in a fairly short amount of time. I’m aiming for 100,000 as a general goal but at this rate and with how much there is left to tell I imagine I’ll go over that amount.

I’m not saying that what I’m writing is perfect, it may amount to nothing in the end. But I can’t stop writing. There’s a whole world created, a whole set of people, an adventure, that exists now in words that would never have been there without me. In a rather twisted way it all relies on me to exist. To create a world, a whole reality, to have everything that happens there as your responsibility, it feels so exhilarating!

I have started talking to publishers, getting advice from published authors, and I even have artists ready to start working on the cover art and the world map (all good fantasy stories need world maps!), I don’t know where this will take me, but I feel good about it. It feels ‘right’.

That is my reason for neglecting this blog. I will try to sneak the occasional review in occasionally though!

But enough about me. I made this blog site with the aim of reviewing music so here’s a few music related things so that this post isn’t all about me!

First up, Take-That. I’m not fussed on them. Never have been. But one of their newer songs, and the video to this song, has been a pleasant surprise. It’s visually quite Steampunk, or at least some of the outfits are. This caused some outrage from the Steampunk community which I don’t think is fair. The song is really quite good, the video is entertaining, and the Steampunk outfits look good, rather than looking like a parody. This isn’t mainstream Steampunk, it was just an inspired off-the-cuff idea from one of the video directors that fitted the message of the song! And it works.

Which is more than Panic at the Disco can say about their foray into the genre.

So here is the video, Kidz, by Take That:

See? That wasn’t so bad was it? Anyone expecting Gary Barlow (yes I had to google the member’s names) to turn up at a Steampunk convention? No, because the video was just a bit of fun. And fun, coupled with creativity is what Steampunk is all about right?

Next up, Lady Gaga. I have avoided her this long simply because the music seemed to be going over the same ground that pop stars have been star jumping on for a while now. I gave one of her new songs a chance due to its name: ‘Judas’. I find religion incredibly interesting, as most atheists do I’m sure. So I was interested to see if the video and the song matched the name. And it really did. It was basically about a love triangle between Mary Magdalene, Jesus, and Judas. But looked at in a wider scope what it came across as was the human desire to embrace both the ‘good’ and ‘evil’ parts that make us human. In the video these three biblical characters and the disciples were a biker gang of sorts. It may sound lame but it works!

Here’s the video, enjoy:

After seeing this I checked out some of her other songs and got bored very quickly. But this song is still brilliant in my opinion.

Okay, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into my mind and into the more mainstream music area. Sure these songs need no publicity but I found them interesting discussion points when it comes to style genre’s and biblical teachings. You’re own opinions are your own and my opinions are mine. Make of it what you will.

Yours hastily,

-Zero Nine


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Review of KK & the Steampunk Orchestra’s album: “The Magic Lantern”

Summer is here! And as is always the way it is time to latch onto a particular album and claim that it is the soundtrack to your summer.

Well here is my entry: The Magic Lantern by “KK & The Steampunk Orchestra”, is the musical brain child of Kevin Kerrigan; a British based composer, record producer, and sound designer.

It is very rare for a song to really grab me and draw me in. Admittedly I was attracted to this album by its Steampunk connotations but after hearing “Pioneers” I couldn’t get it out of my head! So many Steampunk themed bands seem to be popping up of late and although I wouldn’t consider any of them to be terrible but there are only one or two that I can honestly say that I love.

The Magic Lantern brings back the feeling of adventure and mystery, in a way it reminds me of why I love Steampunk. It isn’t about goggles or top hats (although they are two very fun parts of it!). It’s about imagination. It’s about seeing a whole new world and allowing that world to (healthy) overlap into the real world. It is this sensibility that I feel The Magic Lantern evokes perfectly.

KK’s skill as a creator of music is incredible. In the past he has worked with: Brian Eno, Björk, Tim Booth, Dido, Natalie ImbrugliaJames Newton Howard and many others, he has also made many musical contributions for film, television and theatre. My point it, this man knows what he is doing. Your ears are in safe hands!

Although I will always be a fan of vocal led music it is quite often the case that an instrumental song will move me more so than it would had it included vocals. The lack of lyrics allow the music to truly act upon you imagination. Each song on this album feels like its own little world, each a little segment of reality that you are invited to, if only for a few minutes.

I couldn’t help but imagine scenes to match with each track, I could go on and on about each in particular but that wouldn’t be fair. This is a thinking persons album and although there may be similarities I doubt any two people will see the same world in the same track. I wouldn’t want to influence what you see! 

Naming no track names however I can tell you that this album could transport you to alien worlds, snow layered cityscapes, sad but beautiful wastes, thriving forests and haunted sci-fi amusement parks. Or it could lead you to totally different, even more amazing places.

 That’s another thing that I love about this album. It is so personal. It is your own individual experience. It is an album crafted to perfection but what it uses most is your own imagination; your own ability and willingness to work with the music rather than sit back and allow it to do all the work for you.

As readers of this blog will know, the soundtrack of my imagination is already a position held by another: You Know Who. But The Magic Lantern is most definitely the soundtrack to my summer, and in the running for the soundtrack to my soul! It is an album entirely expressed without words and I admit that I am having difficulty with finding the words to describe it to you.

Perhaps my inability will speak more for the power of this album than I could ever hope to type down here. But whatever the case I sincerely implore you to give it a chance. It deserves to be heard, and you deserve to hear it. In some ways you owe it to yourself. When was the last time you let an album truly into your mind? Get The Magic Lantern, dim all the lights, lay back and remember what it was to dream of more than what there is.

Personally, I’m halfway through “Pioneers” and I just set sail into the aether aboard an air-borne galleon.

I’ll see you on the return journey!

Zero Nine

KK & the Steampunk Orchestra can be found on:



and the The Magic Lantern is available from Itunes!

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Abney Park – Why they are the soundtrack to my imagination:

As a music reviewer it is important to keep a certain degree of distance between you and the music you are reviewing, objectivity is the key and without it all a review becomes is a  fan boy/girl rant. It is for that reason that I have never reviewed any album by Abney Park. It would end up being a 10,000 word essay on how bloody amazingly awesome cool they are (yes: ‘awesome cool’). It would be so flattering no-one would believe it and so long that even fans would get bored with reading it… and the band may take out restraining orders on me… even if they are an ocean away.

So I won’t mention their music in any great detail, nor review them as such. What I will do instead is lay them out on a visual platter for your eyes to devour. So without further ado I give you the Seattle-based band Abney Park. I promise you, as fantastic as they look, they sound even better ;D

The members of Abney Park have altered slightly over the years and although each deserves a mention I felt it made more sense to use only pictures of the current line up to avoid confusion. So, in the picture above, from left to right: Nathaniel Johnstone, Jody Ellen, Captain Robert, Kristina Erickson and Daniel Cederman.

Captain Robert: The band’s front man and undisputed leader (they don’t call him the captain for nothing!). Besides lead vocals he also plays: Darbuka, Diatonic button accordion, harmonica, bouzouki, bağlama and ukulele!

Daniel Cederman: Master of the Flintlock Bass and damn nifty on the acoustic guitar Daniel brings the firepower!

Kristina Erickson: With her keyboard and piano prowess Kristina provides the band with the atmosphere that has made them what they are.

Nathaniel Johnstone: Guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo… Nathaniel seems to have mastered them all… switching between them all during songs can prove difficult however! Fortunately there are always fans willing to lend a hand!

Jody Ellen: Vocals also, but by no means backing; Jody brings a new level of vocal diversity to the crew!

Out of all the Steampunk bands and stories created, none seem so complete as that which Abney Park have created around themselves….

Their attention to detail, both with their instruments as well as their outfits is astounding.

These are people who Live their music. It really is their world. And it shows.

And all the work they’ve put in is greatly appreciated; their fan base grows on a daily basis. There are very few in the Steampunk community who don’t know of them.

And don’t go thinking their instruments and clothes are shop bought! Steampunk is the style of the creative and as such almost everything in these pictures has either been made from scratch by the band themselves or bought and altered. All you need is imagination and will power when it comes to Steampunk. They have barrels of both. 

Their community is ever-growing, they have very active Facebook and Myspace accounts and all their music so far can be found on Itunes. Their website is also a great port of call for those of you that want to find out more!

If everyone dressed like this the world would be a better place… visually at least!

It is heartwarming to see a band so immersed their own lore. They are a force of musical nature.

Live they are superb; they care a huge amount about their fans and happily hang out before and after gigs. Personally I have never felt so appreciated for appreciating good music!

 I have yet to find a song of theirs I don’t like, and I have over a dozen that I completely Love.

 Goddamnit Abney Park, I salute and support you in all your endeavors! I was lucky enough to see them in London a few years ago, and even luckier to get the picture below:

I’m surprised I’ve been able to keep it as brief as I have! There is so much more I could say, but the rest is yours to discover.

As mentioned they are available through:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Abney-Park/312292093741

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/abneypark

And also Itunes

Their website is the best place to start: http://www.abneypark.com/

They are, as you may have guessed, my favorite band. And although some may disagree I think of Abney Park as being the forefront in music and style when it comes to the genre of Stemapunk. But more importantly they are making music that they want to make, and they are designing, making, and wearing clothes that matches their music perfectly.

They are a band that lives what they do, and loves what they create. And for that reason they have my respect, and my almost crazy level of fandom.

Till next time; I’m on the airship with the biggest guns… come get me…

Zero Nine

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Review of The Cog is Dead’s album: “Steam Powered Stories”

The Cog is Dead are a Steampunk four piece hailing from DeLand, Florida. What with the Steampunk music scene still being as small as it is you’d be forgiven for never having heard of it so before I get stuck into ‘Steam Powered Stories’ I would just like to say that Steampunk as a visual style is hard to define and its music even more so. There is a great deal of debate over what constitutes as ‘Steampunk’ in the musical world; the bands vary so wildly in style and sound that all you can really do is pick your own favorite, or be radical and like them all!

But for me what makes a band and their music ‘Steampunk’ is just as much to do with their own back story as it does with what they wear and the sound they create. With that in mind lets look at ‘Steam Powered Stories’, the debut offering from The Cog Is Dead…

Perhaps I set myself up for a fall but I so wanted to love this album. The cover art work, the band’s fantasy back story (a group of musical time travelers from the year 1893 whose mission is to journey through time in an attempt to bring steam back as the world’s main source of power and replace all digital clocks with clockwork) and the track titles practically dripping with Steampunk influence caught my imagination completely! But after the first listen through I was more bemused than enthralled.

Not because this is a bad album, don’t misunderstand me. But because the quality song to song jumps about so much that I couldn’t get into the flow of it. Tracks such as ‘The Depths Below’ and ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ are almost perfect in atmosphere and construction whilst songs like: ‘Let Me Be Your Man’ and ‘Mechanical Menagerie’ seems childlike and clumsy in comparison. It was this contrast throughout the album that left me feeling frustrated.

I should point out at this point that there are a half-dozen songs in ‘Steam Powered Stories’ that are quite simply amazing, they captured my imagination completely and I can safely say that some of them are among my most highly thought of tracks. I do not make such statements lightly or without good reason.

However, it was only after I extracted them from their placements amongst the other tracks on the album that I was able to appreciate them, and in turn realise how talented this band is. Left where they are they become lost between what I consider the album’s ‘lesser’ songs. I’m all for contrast but not when it cancels out, or worse, makes a mockery of a tracks message.

For example: the track ‘I Want Only You’, a reggae style Steampunk love song, whist entertaining and certainly creative, completely ruins the transition between the righteous fury in ‘The Death Of the Cog’ and the heartbreaking heroism present in ‘A Letter To Michelle’. Not that I’m against fun songs, humour is great in an album when done correctly, but I think The Cog Is Dead have missed the target and that in this particular case these songs only serve to distract from the tracks that truly showcase their skill, depth and vision.

As a band they need to find their balance, if they do then their next release could well be something superb. At the moment they show a huge amount of promise, but I couldn’t suggest buying the whole album (available from Itunes). If you do get chance to hear or buy any of their songs then just know that the following show The Cog Is Dead at their best:

Blood, Sweat and Tears

The Depths Below

The Copper War

Time Machine

The Death Of The Cog

A Letter To Michelle

These are all well worth buying in my opinion!

And here is a link to their website for those of you who want to find out more: http://www.johnmondelliproductions.com/thecogisdead/index.html

I’ll be watching, Mr Sprocket, I’ll be watching…

See y’all next time!

Zero Nine

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