CD Review of Lost Horizons - The Continuing Adventures of Abney Park by Abney Park
Recommended if you like
Thomas Dolby, Danny Elfman,
Peter Murphy
Abney Park:
Lost Horizons:
The Continuing Adventures
of Abney Park

Reviewed by Jason Thompson


or those of ye who are into the steampunk movement (if you need a crash course on the subject, feel free to look it up on your friendly neighborhood Wikipedia – it’s far too detailed to get into completely here), you may care to turn your ears to Seattle, Washington’s own Abney Park. Here we have a costumed group of musical individuals with not only a distinct steampunk look, but an original sound as well with which to exact their extraordinary visions. They create their own movie, they make their own soundtrack. And what a soundtrack it is.

The band fancies a time when steam-powered dirigibles owned the sky and computers collided with organic instruments, creating a new species of musical contraptions. It’s the sort of mind painting that Thomas Dolby played out so beautifully in his track “Budapest by Blimp,” and here in the hands of Abney Park, it’s taken even further. Think musical swashbucklers and belly dancers rocking out a mix of the theatric, the pop-smart, and a bit of gothic as well and you begin to get the picture.

Lost Horizons is presented as a steampunk concept album, but the songs stand alone on their own as well. So even though the grand dynamics of “Airship Pirate” kick things off accordingly, it’s more what’s in the listener’s own imagination that can then link it to “The Emporer’s Wives” (sic) than an outright lyrical theme, though that’s part of the picture too. Indeed, along with the aforementioned Dolby, listeners might also hear some Information Society and early Nine Inch Nails as part of the electronic part of the mix, scraping up against the organic nature of the percussion and guitars. It all works elegantly, which may come as a surprise to those only looking at the band and considering them strictly a visual commodity.

“Sleep Isabella” mixes a sensuous and remorseful violin with tightly processed guitar fragments and a steady backbeat. “The Secret Life of Dr. Calgori” presents a carnival atmosphere with near-whispered vocals and sweeping strings.  “Virus” successfully takes the Peter Murphy influence and updates it into the sci-fi vision Abney Park commands so effortlessly. It’s the sort of thing that Murphy might indeed be doing now if he was just starting out. The nice thing about it, though, is that it isn’t bogged down with overtly gothic ideas, making the song stand out on its own musically, rather through its attitude.

“Post Apocalypse Punk” may be the “poppiest” thing on the album. Its instantly likable melodies, married to the heavy beats, certainly make Abney Park sound like a strong contender for modern radio. That the band is so well-versed in its own musicality can only help them more. And on “Herr Drosselmeyer’s Doll,” the band presents its most delicate and pretty moment, even as the darker overtones push away in the background. In anyone else’s hands, this stuff might come off as pompous fluff, but Abney Park make it work because they’re so genuine.

It’s exciting to see a band like this come along and also have the songs to back themselves up. That they look cool is one thing, but the addition of the professionalism of their music is another. After all, hasn’t Kiss always skated by on average rock songs with their look and commercialism taking the forefront? Not so with Abney Park – they have the look, the sound, and the steampunk ideals down to perfection. There’s certainly an audience out there who will completely love this band, and greater success should come their way with this collection of inspired songs, as well as their stunning live shows.

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