Monday, January 18, 2010

the clockwork quartet

Scott directed my attention to a steampunk band based in London called The Clockwork Quartet.

Despite the name, this band is more of a 12 or 13-piece orchestra rather than a quartet.  Although their website and MySpace page have only two songs posted online, one can tell just by looking at them that they have embraced the steampunk, Victorian science fiction genre full-force. All of the band members dress as characters who are Victorian-esque in appearance, such as a doctor, a scientist, and an engineer.  The rest wear leather vests or jackets with bowler hats, boots, ruffle skirts, and clockwork cogs.  The time-keeping gears are attached as pins for their lapels, made into earrings, or just sewn onto any spot on their outfits that seems to need a little decoration.
image source: Original Content London
I can tell very little about their background or history, despite what it says on their website and blog.  They appear to use a  wide variety of instruments ranging from the violin, cello, several types of banjos, accordion, oboe and musical saw, with percussion coming from objects such as scrap metal, metronomes, clocks and typewriters. In addition, almost everyone in the band sings at one point or another.

Going along with the hands-on ethos of steampunk, they even create their own unconventional instruments to give them a very distinct sound, such as the Steamdrone.  What is this strange contraption?  According to this blog post:
It’s a pseudo-organ that runs on steam power, or will do in a sort of theatrical magic way... it will provide a veritable bonanza of steam and lights and pipe organ sounds.
[image source: Original Content London]
Click here to listen to what this infernal instrument sounds like.

To be honest,since their blog has not been updated since October, and there does not seem to have been much forum activity on their website, I wonder if this band, which was so active until their last update October, is currently doing any shows.  I would like to know if an album is in the works and if they're gaining a following in England outside the steampunk community.  Their stage performance seems to be more of a show than a concert, so perhaps an album is not a viable option at this point.  But they should still update their website more so than they have been doing recently, because people will lose interest if they don't think a band is producing anything new or touring or performing.

Below I've linked to "The Watchmaker's Apprentice," a song that makes use of not only the accordion, cello, and violin for its 19th century feel, but also uses a metronome and ticking clocks to make its own distinct and appropriate sound for the subject matter of the song:


  1. Hi, thanks for the post - We're still active! We've been just been so busy recording our album... and several other side projects... so just hang onto your hats for a few months..!

  2. Would you perhaps be interested in doing an interview?

  3. What a lovely idea. :) I just sent you a message via your website on the topic.