Musings on the nature of Physicality as it applies to the Commercial Release of Recorded Musical Artforms

A Physical Thing, of a steampunky nature

How should a steampunk album be released? What would you like to get your hands on when buying a physical object? A boring old CD case or something a bit more interesting?

I’ve been reading a blog post on BLDGBLG about the fictional worlds of protocol architecture.

The idea of creating entire fictional worlds has long held a fascination for me (so much so that I have two manuscripts for awful fantasy novels sitting in cupboards, gathering dust) and the artefacts Protocol Architecture created – maps,photographs and notebooks -are a wonderful way of providing windows into those worlds.

This morning I wrote a song: The Miser’s Will II: What the Orderly saw. Here’s a rough demo:

What the Orderly Saw

It’s the second of what will be five narrative songs, and tells the story of the last moments of a hospital orderly who witnessed something he shouldn’t have seen and dies for it.

The first song is about a cartographer who meets a similar fate after following the bizarre instructions he recieves, scrawled onto one of his maps.

The Cartographer’s Tale

There’s a definite narrative here, and there’s the possibility of all sorts of artefacts existing to accompany the story – the map the cartographer recieved, the Miser’s Will itself, and objects the cartographer dug up.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the different ways I could represent my music – CD cases are a little boring after all, and more than a little old hat. There are wonderful steampunk USB cases out there, and more interesting things could be constructed to hold boring old CDs. At some point in the near future I’ll want to start making my music available in a physical format and given the narrative nature of so much of my music, it seems reasonable for it to explore some of these ideas.

After all, Steampunk people do seem to have a real affinity for beautiful things and well made physical objects and it seems appropriate to acknowledge that, even in music.

What do you reckon? Handmade copper CD cases, handmade leather bound CD booklets, maps and metal artefacts. Are those the things that should accompany a Steampunk CD?

I’m not sure yet, but I do know that boring old plastic CD cases are not on the cards.

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