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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Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

“Jack et la Mécanique du Coeur” (original title)

Creator: Mathias Malzieu (original novella/composer of all music through his band Dionysos/voice of Jack in the original French tracks)

Media Type: Feature Film, 94 minutes

Audience: Tween to Adult (regardless of what Netflix says).

Note: there isn’t any gore/violence/overt sex that typically warrants a tweens and up suggestion.  And yes, it is a musical, but not a Disney musical with fully orchestrated sing-alongs. Instead this CG film is very surreal and moves very quickly with operatic styled music, which would likely lead it to bore most small children.

Summary:

On the coldest day in history, on the edge of Edinburgh a young woman is desperate to make it to the midwife in time to give birth to her son. The time in the cold, though, has taken it’s toll and the boy is born with a heart made of ice. The midwife (a doctor/inventor named Madeleine who is rumored to be a witch) quickly replaces this ineffective heart with a cuckoo-clock and tells the baby that there are three rules he must follow to keep his cuckoo-heart running:

  1. Never touch the hands of your heart
  2. Keep your temper under control
  3. Never, ever, fall in love.

Jack lives for ten uneventful years safely cooped up in the home he shares with Madeleine and several of her eccentric friends. For his tenth birthday he begs his adoptive mother to let him visit town, which he has never been allowed to do before. She agrees but implores him to abide by his three rules.

He doesn’t.

Instead he falls in love with a beautiful Spanish girl he hears singing at a fountain and decides he must chase the girl of his dreams all the way across Europe. But as time goes by, he begins to worry. Will she remember him? Will she love him the way he loves her? And if she does, can his fragile heart take it?

The Good:

  • This is an incredible film from a visual standpoint. The graphics are fabulously detailed and keep your attention throughout the film.
  • The steampunk elements are frequent (locomotives with bellows segments and horseless carriages to name a few) and intelligently used.
  • The music is emotionally resonant and unique; a breath of fresh air into the musical genre.

The Bad:

  • Tragically, this film suffers from terrible translation issues. The dialog is rushed and doesn’t allow you any time to reflect on what’s said before three more lines are spoken. The US Netflix version is only available in English, but if you can I suggest watching it in the original French with subtitles.
  • It’s weird.
    • Normally this isn’t a negative, but the surreal nature of the film made it sometimes hard to follow. For instance, Jack the Ripper makes an appearance during a traveling song, and it’s not explained or ever brought up again.

Bonus:

Remember this video I posted a few weeks ago?

It’s the single from the Dionysos album called La Mécanique du Cœur was composed and recorded to accompany the novella which the film is adapted from. The above music video was created by the director of the film and in a similar (though not identical) style.

Learn more about The Novella

Learn more about The Album

Learn more about The Film

Also instead of a trailer, below is a clip from the film. This is where Jack meets Miss Acacia. It gives a great taste for the films music and style. 

et en Français:

Let me know what you think of the movie in the comments or via Twitter @SteamLib.

Holiday Break

Happy Holidays readers, bloggers, and librarians! Please excuse the lack of posts this month, holiday travel and family time has taken me away from the site temporarily. New reviews will be coming in the New Year!

In the interim, you can still send in your reviews, recommendations, photos, and more to submissions@steampunklibrary.net and follow updates (including last minute gift ideas) via Twitter @SteamLib.

Enjoy your winter celebrations everyone!

P.S.

Need something to break-up the Twelve Days of Christmas? My suggestion is modern classical string sounds with pop-catchiness. Can’t be done? It can! This mix of modern and classical is perfect for setting the holiday feel without having to hear “Santa Baby” ever again. Contemporary chamber music is also the perfect soundtrack for your next Steampunk tea date or for your book clubs post-meeting-mingle-music.

Vitamin String Quartet, Dallas String Quartet, Apocalyptica, and 2Cellos all do classical style covers of everything from Lady Gaga to Kansas to Metalica. Their music is available via YouTube, Pandora, and iTunes. For a great Holiday mix you don’t have to monitor hook Pandora up to some speakers and add a mix of these classic-covers into an incredible, crowd-pleasing channel.

Steam Themed Halloween pt2

Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).

Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at submissions@steampunklibrary.net and via Twitter @SteamLib.

Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:

Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.

Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?

Image: the librarian as a steampunk gender-bent Sherlock Holmes
Your Librarian as Sherlock Holmes circa 2012

Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.

Who doesn’t love coloring?

Image of my personal copy of Brian Kessinger's Coloring With Your Octopus
The best birthday present from The Boyfriend (aka The Project’s IT guy)

Artist Brian Kesinger (author of Walking Your Octopus) has a matching coloring book out now! You can find Coloring With Your Octopus at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Pages can be distributed throughout October in the Children’s (and Teen, and Adult) sections to bring some steampunk whimsy to your tables. There’s also the Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book, the Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book, and the option to make your own coloring pages off of Google or with the help of a crafty coworker. These are great for having out the whole month and at the kid’s table at events.

Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.

Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story

Age/Audience: Teen/Adult

Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story

Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,

Summary:

Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.

When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.

Bottom Line:

Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Find It:

The Curious Case on Amazon

The Curious Case on Goodreads

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: