Friday Music

Pretty extensive entry this week, so here we go:

I’ve been dipping into an unfamiliar pool — steampunk music. I’ve been a fan of steampunk since well before it had a name, and now it’s experiencing a bit of a popularity explosion, including an extension into the musical genre. Abney Park is a Seattle-based industrial/electronic/gothic band — who have the best goddamn website I’ve ever seen, EVAR (no, seriously, go check it out). The particular angle they’ve taken is Steampunk — the band’s conceit is that they’re the crew of the airship Ophelia. The music is quite good as well. I’ve linked two tracks from their website:

I first thought that this song was going to be a cover of the Bauhaus track of the same name, but no — it has no connection beyond the shared title. Abney Park – “Stigmata Martyr”

This track starts with a nice synth approximation of strings and horns before mixing in more electronic sounds. Abney Park – “The Wrong Side.”

Both tracks are great, but I’d love to see the steampunk aesthetic reach further into the goth/industrial sounds — Hmmm. Something for me to work on, perhaps.

Moving away from Steampunk, but still in the realm of technology — the new iPod Nano ad features an earworm that I had to hunt down. Irresistably catchy work from a Canadian singer-songwriter, and former member of Broken Social Scene: Feist – “1, 2, 3, 4.”

Leaving the Steam entirely, but moving into another variety of punk — the Cyber kind. One of my favorite tracks from the Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex soundtracks: Origa – “Rise.”

A while back I posted “Thou Shalt Always Kill” from the UK experimental hip-hop outfit Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. Here’s another single from the same guys, and, in my opinion, of similar quality: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – “The Beat That My Heart Skipped.”

Another group that gets the “experimental hip-hop” label, although really it’s more a melange of hip-hop, rock, electronic and more…although without a doubt experimental. The album, For Hero, For Foolis a concept work, following the epic adventures of a character they call “Hour Hero Yes.” Subtle – “The Mercury Craze.”

A Mountain of One (AMO1) is a UK-based group that does modern progressive/psychedelic and has been called “the sound of England dreaming.” Their debut album, “Collected Works” (gathering all of their 12-inch singles) is out next week. I am so glad that I stumbled across them this week. A Mountain of One – “Can’t Be Serious.”

Occasionally, I am reminded of just how good an album Paul Simon’s Graceland actually is…the mix of Simon’s poetic lyrics with the sounds of South African pop music of the 80s was a winning combination — and this praise comes from a person who knows and likes the real stuff (Simon caught flak in some circles for co-opting the South African sound). Hard to pick a song to feature, since they’re all so good, but I know that loves this one, and it features some of my favorite lyrics on the entire album: “She looked me over and I guess she thought I was alright….Alright in a sort of a limited way for an off night.” Paul Simon (feat. The Gaza Sisters) – “I Know What I Know.”