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Gandalf's Fist might have created the first ever steamprog concept album

Cumbrian proggers Gandalf’s Fist are proving their worth with their new three-CD sci-fi-steampunk concept album The Clockwork Fable

The worlds of science fiction and fantasy have a long-held fascination with the concept of the mythical subterranean realm. In 1864, French fantasist Jules Verne published his novel Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, which of course inspired keyboard king Rick Wakeman’s 1974 concept album of the same name. In 1895, HG Wells created the malevolent Morlocks – a race of primitive, carnivorous cave-dwellers – for his book The Time Machine. In 1914, Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs released At The Earth’s Core, the first in a series of volumes set in the hypogean interior world of Pellucidar. In 1961, the first issue of Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four featured a fossorial foe named the Mole Man. Not to be outdone, two years later, in Journey Into Mystery issue No.97, the Mighty Thor battled Molto, supreme warrior of the Lava Men.

All of which brings us to the latest in a long list of illustrious underworld imaginings: The Clockwork Fable, the new album by Cumbria-based creative genii Gandalf’s Fist. This hugely ambitious three-CD release is set in the dark and steamy surroundings of Cogtopolis, a city beneath the surface, founded by the surviving members of mankind following an unspecified global catastrophe. As the centuries progress, Cogtopolis develops into a microcosmos following its own crude laws, rules and religions.

The Clockwork Fable tells the tale of central characters Eve and her mentor Tinker, who find out that the sun has returned to shine above ground. We follow the pair’s trials and tribulations as they attempt to flee from the hell of Cogtopolis and return to the Earth’s surface.

As Gandalf’s Fist vocalist Luke Severn explains: “It’s basically Escape From New York, only set in an underground Victorian town – a steampunk environment, if you will – minus Kurt Russell, with 100 per cent added jokes about celery-legged baboons.”

Multi-instrumentalist Dean Marsh expands: “It took pretty much exactly one year from the genesis of the idea to having it as the finished package. It was talked about for a while between Luke and I that we wanted to do something based around a subterranean aesthetic. It wasn’t until the morning of my wedding, where Luke was best man, that the idea really started to form… ‘Oh, there should be a clockwork child and a pedal-powered zeppelin!’ Next thing you know we’ve created a workable post-apocalyptic socio-economic model before our second breakfast whisky.”

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