Friday, August 16, 2013

A New Way of Storytelling

It never fails to amaze me what artists come up with. Though many of us steampunks may cling hard and fast to the old sensibilities and aesthetics, you can't help but admit that the internet is always bringing us new and interesting ways to tell our stories, to live the adventures we want to live and to express ourselves creatively. 

Enter Aurelia, a steampunk/fantasy interactive web drama that allows you to join with hundreds of other players, to act out the story through videos and tell your part of the tale through your own narrative. 

Upon first inspection, it appears that the story is in its third or fourth week, and has become rather complex. Confusing to newcomers, though the video below may help clear this up. Personally, I wish I'd heard of this thing from the very start and joined in at the beginning. I'll be checking out the website, though I'm not sure about joining in this late in the game.

But I find myself absolutely captured with the breadth and width of this idea. The potential this has. It's genius, really, hundreds of steampunks can interact with one another through videos and stories, a vast role-playing game over the internet. 

Each week fans recieve a new call to action that invites them to react to plot twists and tell the story from their character's point of view. Fans are also encouraged to post pictures of the costumes, sets and props they are using to facebook and twitter with hashtags.

Below is a sample of the weekly updates and some of the actors participating:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Album Review: The Weak And The Weary by Eli August and The Abandoned Buildings

A review copy of this album was graciously provided by Eli August, and while it's not something I would normally pick up, it was a good listen. Their sound is very folksy - sounds like something you'd hear played while friends gather around drinking hot cider or mulled wine in somebody's kitchen.

It's always interesting reviewing music because music is such a subjective taste, and is always filtered through the lens of where one's mind is at the time one hears is. At the time I got this, I was starting my first few lessons in flight school, so my mind was at an elated 2000-4000 feet above sea level. Naturally "Rise Above" was a quick favourite.

The first song, "Alone", drew me in right away. It has a driving beat, and a cello, and anything that incorporates cello goes over well with me. The second thing I noticed was the backup singer - and you know, I personally think backup singers are hugely underrated. A second vocalist throws some variety into the music, with a different vocal range. One voice can be as different from another as having a completely different instrument, especially when you're throwing a male vocalist up against a female vocalist. It's one of the things I like about Abney Park, and Nightwish, and it works here too.

Sadly the cello was only in one song that I noticed, but I'm also a lyric person - lyrics matter to me. The lyrics in this album sound like they come from the spirit of my generation. A generation frustrated and jaded by the world that's been passed down to us. Some of it's hopeful, some of it's a little depressing. I liked the hopeful ones more.

So if you like a nice relaxing listen, with easy going rhythms, check it out; I enjoyed it.

A solid eight cylinders.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Album Review: The Dolls Of New Albion, A Steampunk Opera

I don't remember how I stumbled upon this. I think it might have been in a google image search, and I saw "Steampunk Opera" in the image and was intrigued. You can listen to the whole thing online for free - you don't pay until you want to download it to put it on an mp3 player, so you can preview the whole thing. I listened to the first and second song, and after that I bought it.

I've always loved songs that tell stories (can't stand lyric poetry, but I like narrative poetry) so to me, a musical is only one step better. There are four acts, and each track is a scene. Each act deals with one generation of characters, and the next act tells the story of their descendants. And each story takes the world of the previous act, and shows what has evolved out of the events of the previous story. By the time they're running the zombie doll for mayor, I'm completely invested in the world and loving the surrealness of it.

I will attempt not to gush about the creepy romance of this album. There are four acts. The first is about a woman scientist who brings the man she loves back from the dead in a newly created full sized doll body. And if you've paid attention to media for the last thirty years at all, you know that bringing people back from the dead never ends well. Never.

In fact, for those of you out there who like your happy endings, I'll give you a warning right here - this tells four stories, and none of them have happy endings. Satisfying? Yes. Happy? No.

But I've personally always loved when a storyteller can take a story and make it satisfying even if it's not happy. So many complex emotional responses it can evoke.

The one thing that disappointed me is the very ending, where a revolution is in the making. Anyone who knows me well knows that civil war is kind of a thing that hooks me, and draws me into something. So when I heard the narrator sing,

"The revolution that rises
has stories for another
time, our tale for this evening
comes to a close"

I confess to having been a bit disappointed.


I was checking out Paul Shapera's site, and what else he's released, and what he's got in the works, and went, omg, omg, omg. Because I saw this.

Yes, ladies an gentlemen, there's a sequel. And it's call the "New Albion Radio Hour, A Dieselpunk Opera." And it's about the revolution.

I do not lightly give the twelve cylinders, but this one gets it.