Thursday, September 6, 2012

Abney Park: Steampunk music for the Airship Pirate in all of us

I got into Abney Park a few years ago, when Lost Horizons came out. That was about the time they were streamlining their image into a Steampunk thing. But it's also a post apocalypse concept, in both their music and their style – they're not trying to recreate the Victorian Era – there's a definite influence, but they're doing their own thing.

But at the same time, the goggles I've seen Captain Robert wearing are Aviator goggles, not the round inventors sort of goggles – aventurer goggles, for flying. Also, I've seen Kristina, the keyboardist wearing a much more WWII era, military style cap, mixing in the Dieselpunk, proving there's no rules to mixing and matching subgenre elements.

The first song of theirs I ever heard was “Airship Pirates” from Lost Horizons, and it is everything a song with the title “Airship Pirates” could be expected to be. From there I was hooked, and have bought all their subsequent albums – Aether Shanties, End of Days, and the newest one, Ancient World.

The music itself has a sound that's an eclectic mix of folk, industrial, and a gypsy sound, but it also fluctuates from one song to the next. “Sleep Isabella” sounds like something you'd hear in a middle eastern setting, and then “Ragtime Punk” sounds like something you'd hear in a western saloon. I love that the music itself is never just a muddle of sound. I've had a hard time getting into some indie bands, just because I can tell the musicians themselves, while their hearts are in it, are just not that skilled. These musicians, they know what they're doing, and the melodies intertwine in a very polished way.

The other thing I love about the band in general is that their whole feel is so carefree and hopeful. It seems incongruous to the post apocalypse element, but the lyrics are often saying, the world may be be shit, but don't let anyone hold you down. Keep fighting, live your dreams, it's possible, and it's hard, but it's worth it. I love that in songs like “Off the Grid”: 

I've packed my bags
Bought back my pride.
I'd rather live in rags
Than throw my dreams aside!

Or “Letters Between A Little Boy And Himself As An Adult” - a conversation between the titular characters over a very Steampunk device that allows conversations through time, where the boy reminds his jaded future self never to let go of the things he loved back then. 

Check out their New Tribal Market to pick up their albums, and check out the clothing and other accessories. Everything on there is made by local artisans, so none of your money is going to some huge faceless corporation. I got the goggles, and they're awesome!


  1. I've recently gotten really into Steam Powered Giraffe so I've been looking for more music in that genre. I'll definitely check them out! Thanks for sharing. :)


    1. I'll have to look into Steam Powered Giraffe, I haven't listened to them so far :)

  2. Abney Park does make their own steampunk world just that- their own. They do have some great songs, and the ones you've listed are among my favorites. They have such a unique style between songs, it's quite amazing.

    1. All of that is what I like about them. And Captain Robert has a book out now I'm going to have to read.

  3. I played Abney Park for my daughters a couple of years ago, but they did not want to like the same music as their Dad, at the time. I chuckled. I should try them again, soon.

    1. Heh - kids are funny like that. Maybe I was different than other kids - I liked the music my parents listened to when I was a kid. I still listen to Chris De Burgh.