Vice Quadrant

As of September First, Steam Powered Giraffe has a fourth studio-album! Huzzah!

Blatantly stolen from their website
Blatantly stolen from their website

The Song Selection:

The Vice Quadrant, an impressive two-disc, 28-track ‘Space Opera’ is both totally synced with the style of previous albums, but is also completely new. We have a toe-tapping hero ballad (Commander Cosmo), a YouTube sing-a-long favorite (Fire, Fire), and a geeky-sweet love songs (Soliton). Silly songs like Sky Sharks and The Space Giant round out the album to cover just about any style of SPG you might have liked from a previous collection.

The Style:

For those who have not seen a live show, this concept-heavy set will give you a good idea (though for almost the same price as most of their concert tickets). Unlike previous collections there are also solid appearances from Qwerty (a anthropomorphized computer interface) and Gg (the robotic giraffe), who any readers who have been to a live SPG show know are regulars on stage but usually absent from albums and music videos. Tracks also include more character discussions and narratives closer to a live-show experience rather than the traditional all music pieces from The 2c Show and Album One.

Things of Note:

  • Many songs take full advantage of the music-tech skills of the members and include more complex techy sounds than their previous records. But worry not, there are still lots of ‘traditional’ sounding songs carrying on the SPG folk-style we know and love.
  • Rabbit’s voice is noticeably lighter in style and higher in octave. Though their wasn’t a noticeable feminine change in MKIII it is new and fun in VQ. For those who are interested in Rabbit’s gender-transition journey, she keeps an active video blog.
  • Hatchworth gets way more song-time than he did in MKIII, which, since I am personally not a huge fan, isn’t great. But, I also really prefer deeper baritone voices and less-abstract song structure, so there isn’t much to be done there.
  • This album has a LOT going on. There are a lot of styles, a lot of voices, and a ton of lyrics to take-in. It will take several listen-troughs to fully appreciate everything that went into create this behemoth of a record. Hot off the presses, I liked it. A month later, I love it (except for one or two songs, but hey, out of 28 that’s still amazing).

Buying It:

As always, SPG heavily rewards fans who buy a physical copy versus a digital-only copy. The full two-disc collection comes with a whopping 31-page lyric booklet filled with full-color original artwork. But for those of us who would simply scratch CDs at this point, both parts are also available via iTunes and Bandcamp.

Samples:

Steam Powered Giraffe put out several music videos for VQ. Below are my favorites, but you can see them all on the official SPG YouTube channel.

A favorite member? What? I don’t have one…

Also, this song is on the album, but the video is from a live show two years ago.

Have you heard VQ? What do you think?

Share in the comments or on Twitter @SteamLib

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Frankenstein’s Monster

Creator: Mary Shelley (novel) Written/Produced by Judith B. Shields, Directed by Syd Lance

Media Type: Feature Film, 84 minutes

Audience: Family Friendly (but use your best judgment with extra-small children)

Summary: This micro-budget, independent film adaptation from First Step Cinematics, Frankenstein’s Monster tells the story of The Monster, his creator, and the lives ruined in the name of mad science. Following the original frame narrative the film opens with Dr. Victor Frankenstein being saved at sea. He befriends the vessel’s captain and spins his tale of the creation of the murderous Adam, his science project made from the pieces of the dead and subtle steam-powered mechanics. Unlike the novel the story is told through third-person perspective across a single time-line and allows for insight and conversation with non-primary characters. These characters desperately try to help Victor maintain his sanity, but how can a man keep his wits with a monster on the loose and no one to stop it but himself? This adaptation is the most true to the source material I’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t mean it is without differences — most noticeably the inclusion of dream sequences and the removal of portions of Adam’s story.

The overall feeling is more like a play being recorded than it is a feature film, which helps keep its novel like feeling since the focus is on the characters and their dialog, not flashy creation scenes and gory monsters. One major flaw of the film, though, is the delivery of that dialog. All the dialog is in early 19th century English, not modern English and unfortunately the actors fell victim to what many Shakespearean actors do: the dialog felt memorized instead of free-flowing and emotionally driven. At two instances the speech pattern felt so odd I half expected them to break out into song. However the music is so well put together you don’t lose the emotion of the moment even when the language delivery is off.

Bottom Line:  It may not win any Oscars, but I highly suggest it for classrooms and libraries that want a visual companion for the novel. It will likely keep younger viewers’ attention better than a recorded play thanks to it’s score and sweeping artistic landscape shots.

Read More: First Step Cinematics 

Watch It via Amazon Streaming

Buy It on DVD

Watch the Trailer:

Also a huge THANK YOU to Producer Ms. Shields for reaching out to the Library and submitting the film for review. I really enjoyed it and hope to see more from you in the future!

Thoughts or comments on the movie? Comment bellow or send your reviews to submissions@steampunklibrary.net

Steampunk Coloring & Activity Book

Rainy weekend plan
Rainy weekend plan

Title: Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book
Author: Phoebe Longhi

Age/Audience: All

Genre/Style: Activity and coloring books

Read If You Like: Coloring, word search, 10 minute activities

Summary:

Though aimed at youth this steam-themed paperback activity book appeals to anyone with a box of crayons at hand. Connect-the-dot images, word searches, and ‘complete the picture’ style pages are then paired with cooking recipes and riddles. This variety allows the thin volume to appeal to a wide audience, all with a combined steampunk/anime style.

Example page
Example coloring page

Bottom Line:

Great for a rainy day or travel activity for any age, artistic skill entirely optional.

Find It:

http://www.amazon.com/Steampunk-Coloring-Activity-Book-Illustrations/dp/1933149639

 

Gentlemen of Steampunk

Title: Gentlemen of Steampunk

bookcover
Author: Evan Butterfield
Series: Photograph series

Age/Audience: Adult

Genre/Style: Art book paired with detailed character introduction

Read If You Like: Short stories, character art, or photo-books

 

Summary: Welcome to the creative world of Mr. Luxet Tenebrae, one of Victorian England’s grandest photographer and writer. Inspired by engineering, history, politics, and the swift technological changes of the 19th century this collection of portraits and detailed synopsis of his subject’s work. With an eye for the historical details, Mr. Tenebrae paints a detailed portrait to match his pictures.

Mr. Tenebrae, the alter ego of California based photographer Evan Butterfield, blends various art types into each image. Each character is expressed through a lavishly costumed model and a creative text description. The collection takes the idea of a stuffy, repressed Victorian male and turns it swiftly on its head in this blending of cultural commentary, art, and pseudo-science in a way only a steampunk master can.

 

Bottom Line: A thin volume filled-to-bursting with fantastic and complex images paired with descriptions sure to inspire anyone out of writer’s block.

 

Find the Book:

http://www.amazon.com/Gentlemen-Steampunk-Evan-Butterfield/dp/1500582042

Find More from Evan Butterfield Photography:

http://www.ebutterfieldphotography.com/

Steam Powered Giraffe

Performers: David Bennett, “Bunny” Bennett, & Sam Luke

Media Type: Musical Group / Pantomime

Audience: All/ Family Friendly

Summary:

Steam Powered Giraffe is an entertainment group, first and foremost. They mix original musical and vocal performance with turn of the century-styled robotic pantomime. Music style varies from folksy to soft rock to pop-covers. From the band’s FAQ page their influences include “The Band, ELO, The Beatles, Queen, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, The Mills Brothers, The Bee Gees, Amanda Palmer, Danny Elfman, Frank Sinatra, Radiohead, Muse… And the list goes on!”

The act includes full make-up and costume, plus mechanical movements whizzing, gear popping, and the occasional malfunction. Family friendly without feeling watered down, SPG offers a full artistic steam punk experience you can enjoy at home in your corset via their iTunes and their YouTube channel or get gussied up to watch them in person at any one of dozens of conventions across North America. When you inevitably decide to purchase their music, consider a physical CD over iTunes to get their original steam punk art filled lyric books.

 

Bottom Line: A great band that’s equal parts musical quality and visual performance.

Find It: http://www.steampoweredgiraffe.com and via YouTube:

Evan Butterfield Photography

Evan Butterfield is a photographer based out of California. His work covers a wide array of topics, but lately he’s found he has an exceptional eye for steampunk.

"Your Hair Wants Cutting" c2014
“Your Hair Wants Cutting” c2014

Starting with custom created costumes and accessories with models enthusiastic about dress-up, Mr. Butterfield’s finished pieces encompass the best of traditional and digital photography. The images begin as detail-oriented traditional photographs that are then digitally manipulated to create a unique, antiqued look. Many images are faded, other crinkled, and some so meticulously edited that they look like they were lost in a drawer for generations.

Originally trained in English and a holding a degree in Law, Mr. Butterfields’s inspiration comes from his passion for literature and the steampunk butterfly affect: the notion that things are so dramatically altered by one small technological change. He credits The Difference Engine and The Diamond Age as his gateway and various conventions as his visual inspiration. In all of his steampunk works, he represents what he calls the “triple goddesses” of this particular SciFi aesthetic: Curiosity, Progress, and Science.

“It all comes down to the stories being told,” he said during our lovely phone conversation, “re-imagined into photo reality”. This reimaging comes in a variety of formats, from his series of literary themed pictures to turning Victorian sexism on its head through a series of “Steampunk Beefcake” shoots.

Steampunk Vincent  c2014
Steampunk Vincent c2014

Even though his art is labeled SciFi, Evan Butterfield has a much more down to Earth feeling about the genre. “Despite all the gears steampunk is not divorced from reality,” he says, “its just playing with themes that have always been there – using them to connect.” This enthusiasm and social understanding of the esthetic come through with every image, and I personally cannot wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

Beauty and the Beast c2014
Beauty and the Beast c2014

Evan’s work is available for license or purchase via his online gallery,  or at FineArt America.

Read more about his process and stay up to date on projects by following his blog, Lens Caps.

Jeremiah Congleve, Reflecting  An informal portrait of young Master Jeremiah Congleve, Tertiary Journeyman at the Royal Aetheric Engineering Academy. In later life, Congreve’s work with filamental liquid phenomena would revolutionize phlebotic medicine, military strategy, and commercial air transport; but during his student and journeyman years he struggled with personal demons (of the psychological, rather than phantasmal variety), inappropriate social behaviours, and, as has been previously suggested, rare varieties of addiction. That he overcame these obstacles to become one of the first non-nobles to ascend to the Board of the Imperial College speaks volumes both for his manly character and, of course, for the class-blind and deeply democratic principles that have always been at the very core of the Royal Scientific order, if not always visible on its surface.
Jeremiah Congleve, Reflecting
An informal portrait of young Master Jeremiah Congleve, Tertiary Journeyman at the Royal Aetheric Engineering Academy. In later life, Congreve’s work with filamental liquid phenomena would revolutionize phlebotic medicine, military strategy, and commercial air transport; but during his student and journeyman years he struggled with personal demons (of the psychological, rather than phantasmal variety), inappropriate social behaviours, and, as has been previously suggested, rare varieties of addiction. That he overcame these obstacles to become one of the first non-nobles to ascend to the Board of the Imperial College speaks volumes both for his manly character and, of course, for the class-blind and deeply democratic principles that have always been at the very core of the Royal Scientific order, if not always visible on its surface.

 

Lady Mechanika

Author: Joe Benitez
Series: Comic series, 3 volumes to date

Age/Audience: Teens and Adults equally

Genre/Style: Comic serial, mystery, supernatural

Read If You Like: Mechanics mixed with demonology, strong females, dark edgy comic styles

 

Summary:

The tabloids call her Lady Mechanika, but she doesn’t know what to call herself. Part female serial killer survivor, part mechanical-body-parts experiment Mechanika roams the streets of Victorian London hoping that solving unusual cases might give her insight to her previous life. When a mechanic-demon is found roaming the streets, Mechanika hopes he can answer her questions. But when weapons manufacturer Blackpool gets involved in the hunt, things get much more complicated, and Mechanika will have to do what she does best: kick some ass.

Bottom Line: An action filled comic with creative, pure Steampunk art hosted online with a great in-browser reader.

 

Read More: http://www.joebenitez.com/mechanika.htm

Find It: https://www.comixology.com/Lady-Mechanika-Vol-1/comics-series/4721 (PS Vol. 0 is FREE, the rest only $1.99 each)

Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley & Gris Grimly
Series: –

Age/Audience: Teens and Adults, 15+

Genre/Style: Graphic novel, horror

Read If You Like: Frankenstein, Victorian Monsters, supernatural with a little bit of horror, graphic novels

 

Summary:

The story – Victor Frankenstein is an up and coming scientist from a Geneva aristocratic family. After the death of his mother from scarlet fever, he is inspired to finish his studies so he can return to Geneva and marry his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth and complete his family once again. While at school Victor becomes obsessed with natural philosophy, and the notion that he could do the unthinkable, give life back to the dead. After months of study and midnight experiments he finally manages to create his masterpiece. But genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and soon things are far beyond Frankenstein’s control. As the death toll grows, is there anything that can be done to stop The Monster?

Gris Grimly’s Adaptation – This is one of the purest adaptations I have ever seen. Instead of altering Mary Shelley’s original text, Grimly streamlines it. By pairing Shelley’s scenes with his own Steampunk/Gothic cross over style makes the text accessible to a whole new audience. Readers aren’t confronted with huge blocks of early Victorian language, instead they see bright red script letters, comic-style block image dialog, and a touching rendition of the Creature’s story – a piece of the novel often excluded in adaptations. Five stars, highly recommended for Frankenstein lovers, comic lovers, Steampunk fans, or anyone who will appreciate Shelley’s classic text with streamlined approachability.

 

Bottom Line: Five stars, a beautiful book filled with the original text that made Frankenstein a cultural staple.

Read More:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17331402-gris-grimly-s-frankenstein

Find It:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/gris-grimlys-frankenstein-or-the-modern-prometheus/oclc/697974171&referer=brief_results

The Art of Steampunk

by Art Donovan AND 1,000 Steampunk Creations by Dr. Grymm (Barbie St John)

Age/Audience: All Ages

Genre/Style: Art books

Read If You Like: A short steampunk history lesson, Full color inspiration, coffee table books, steampunk art/costume/crafts

 

Summary:

I chose to list these books together because they serve the same audience: readers who want to see Steampunk items in a variety of mediums. Both books are filled with large, full color (fully cited) images of all things steam: inventions, costumes, hats, and home decore. Neither book includes any instructions for construction, but The Art of Steampunk does include a small synopsis of the item’s components. Additionally, Donovan’s book includes a short essay called “Steampunk 101” by G. D. Falksen, which offers a concise, authoritative description for steampunk that releases students from having to cite Wikipedia.

 

Bottom Line:

Pictures of Steampunk items can serve as inspiration for any number of projects, and the variety shown in these two volumes make for quick work. The Falksen essay is also helpful as a starting point for helping fans articulate their ideas of what steampunk actually is.

 

Find It:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9708869-the-art-of-steampunk

 

Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod

Author: Brian Kesinger
Series: standalone

Age/Audience: Everyone

Genre/Style: Picture book/coffee table book

Read If You Like: Heavily stylized books with simple stories, octopus

Summary:

Recently adopted your own cephalopod and don’t know what to do? Never fear, Brian Kesinger’s brightly illustrated “do and don’t” guide will help you through everything from exercise, to socializing, to keeping ink out of the gears in your boots. This book is filled with over 30 lusciously colored steampunk pictures showing the delightful (but sometimes difficult) day to day of living with a full-sized, eight-armed pet. Hardcover with thick pages this picture book is great for readers who will enjoy Otto’s antics and will surely be asking for their own come Christmas.

 

Bottom Line: Fun, colorful, and off the beaten path of “see Jane go” picture books this pick is a coffee-table staple – fun for adults, vocabulary growing for kids

 

Find It: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/walking-your-octopus-brian-kesinger/1114842286?ean=9781614040064