Wednesday, March 11, 2009

how do we tell apart the time to leave from the time to wait?

So now we begin the breakdown, analysis, poring over details, clues and condecensions. Three entries, more than fifty bands, at least.

It's something to do.

Let's start first with The Fall. I'm going to take another stand here, and rule out electric guitars, for the most part. Not entirely--songs with electric fiddle and modified electric instruments may well sound steampunk enough to fit in. But songs where the guitar is obviously played, and obviously comes, from our modern world as it exists now--I have to say no.

The song Spoilt Victorian Child seems to fall easily and naturally into the latter category.

The Fall as they have been classified, is British post-punk to start with--that sort of 'we've seen the Sex Pistols but we like a bit of melody' group, which in their case formed in 1976. Their sound thrives on the nearly mumbled growl of vocalist Mark E Smith, the constant thudding beat that reminds one more of uniformed feet in sequence than drumwork, and an overdriven, scraped-across-the-raw-nerve guitar sound.

They were John Peel's favorite band, which I suppose says something, but they are in largest measure the full sound and fury of the post-punk movement--grating guitars, jackboot percussion, and a sum and feeling that seeps into our skins with how worthless, how temporary, how utterly dull and spiritless the life of the flesh is.

I have my own sources of ennui, thanks. I don't need anyone else's.

So what puts them on the list? Ultimately, I have to conclude, they are on the list because they're on the list. And if that isn't recursive enough, what got them on someone's list of steampunk songs is their song "Spoilt Victorian Child":

Sugar and cakes appear mean
Sitting at the table
Tigers pop-up from books

Spoilt Victorian Child

Let`s take it ten years on
You`re looking back from then
Under rough grey blankets
Thread loose stained grey blanket

Spoilt Victorian Child


This entire band merits inclusion on the basis of those three words? Hells, no. If we are worth anything in this examination and exhumation of steampunk style and meaning, then we have to be clear on what is, what isn't, and what might be influenced by--or sourced as influence of--steampunk music.

The Fall is out.


Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...


Big Time!

Emilly Orr said...

You know just gutting and laying out these three entries is going to take me until June, right?

But yes, I'm completely baffled as to how they got on anyone's list in the first place--it's like saying Will Smith's version of "Wild Wild West" means he's a country singer, because he mentioned "wild west". Sheer insanity.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

We must keep the devil from giving you idle hands :-)

Emilly Orr said...


Well, I'll be on guard against that, then.