High Tech Low Life

High Tech Low Life, the cyberpunk band from Okinawa, Japan, came as somewhat of a surprise to the European scene.

Not just a band, but an entire worldbuilding setting with their own characters and concept. Which is in itself nothing new, as many steampunk bands have done that. But their intent on doing better and saving the future is something done so well, I had to go and investigate.

So I sat down with the guys from High Tech Low Life to find out more about them and the terrible possible futures converging in 2069, which is, let’s face it, not that far away!

Which you can read right behind the piece about their music and concerts I witnessed. Stick with it til the very end, because there is a little giveaway!

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Filthy ’47 Dieselpunk Audio Drama

Filthy 47

Filthy ’47, by Danvers Nettlefold, is an upcoming dieselpunk audio drama in four parts, two excerpts of which have been published on the narrator’s YouTube channel.

After watching and listening to the excerpts, I am rather intrigued concerning the whole story and I hope the final product will be significantly longer than the excerpts times four. But since the fist excerpt is labeled Episode 2, scene 15, there is a lot of goodness to come.

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RPM Orchestra describe themselves as Proto-Industrial Americana music with a dash of old-fashioned hiss and scratch, done in the spirit of free Jazz.

The orchestra composes and performs original scores to accompany films of the Silent Era, provides musical scores in collaborative multidisciplinary performances, records soundtrack music for contemporary films and regularly performs at various music venues.

The concept of “Proto-Industrial Americana music” intrigued me, so it was with some excitement that I started listening to Stepwise.

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Unexpected Steampunk Music: Pan de Capazo

Pan de Capazo
Pan de Capazo in Heist-op-den-Berg

There are these rare, very rare moments when you find yourself sitting at a local festival that couldn’t be further away from anything steampunk or dieselpunk if it tried and you realizes that the band that just started to perform on stage is, in fact… a steampunk band.

That was what happened when I attended the annual Heist-op-den-Berg sheep-shearing festival in Belgium on May 21. (I go for the food, the food is amazing)

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The Mother Matrix

The Mother Matrix

Stand back everyone, I’m going to try… SCIENCE!

Thus starts “The Spark”, the most energetic song on The Mother Matrix, the newest brain child of the Nathaniel Johnstone Band.

And boy, what a brain child it is! Undoubtedly his best album to date, it combines genres from the past with the kind of music he has become best known for, making this a hotpot of genres and yet every song still has that signature Johnstone feel to it.

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Swamp Steam

Swamp Steam

Sousaphones, bagpipes, valve trombone and ukulele, oh my!

These are some of the extraordinary and unusual (for steampunk at least) instruments you can find on Swamp Steam and let me tell you right now, if this is what comes out of the swamp then sign me right up for a visit!

It may all seem strange at first glance, but it’s a musical gumbo that not only works, it leaves you constantly wondering, wanting to move to the groove and wanting more. It’s the kind of CD to listen to when the fancy for a good mix of different genres strikes or simply to play in the background. Both work and that in itself is quite unique.

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First a little background: In Japan (there are exceptions, such as Tokyo-based steampunk band Strange Artifact), much like is the case with visual kei, steampunk music compiles a wide variety of genres, unified almost solely by their look.

Unlike Western steampunk bands, they don’t have a set gimmick and steampunk lyrics, but use their look to set themselves as part of the movement while playing their own particular musical genre.

One of those artists is Eri Kitamura, the most recent Japanese artist to have discovered steampunk.

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Bookends Fall

Bookends Fall

Jody Ellen, previously of Abney Park fame, returns with a new album, Bookends Fall.

Following on the excellent Skyscrapers and Helicopters (read our review here), Ellen proves that she can handle more genres and is an excellent vocalist and song smith in her own right. If you liked her in Abney Park, and you like singer-songwriter-type songs and soulful singing, you should check out her new work.

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