Victrolacore – Satirical Music for the Sartorial Gentleman

Doctor Steel - OV (Original Villain)
Doctor Steel – OV (Original Villain)

A musical phenomenon of interest to the Kingpin gentleman is one that is emerging from genres being called ‘chap hop‘, ‘modern burlesque’, ‘steampunk‘, even ‘industrial hip-hop opera‘ all of which I put under the broader category of what I have termed Victrolacore. You heard it here first!

The key elements of this branch of the punk bush are the reuse of previous cultural expressions now considered quaint and old-fashioned. Samples taken from recordings of the 20s and 30s; use of antiquated instruments like the banjolele or the harmonium and lyrics peppered with out-of-date colloquialisms are commonly combined with a modern musical approach, like hip hop or industrial structures and then viewed through the gin-soaked lens of satire.

Frisky and Mannish - Chained Heat Prison Edition!
Frisky and Mannish – Chained Heat Prison Edition!

These grafted together with a Kurt Weill sensibility the evokes the music halls of Berlin and London in the period between the world wars. The pervasive decadent burlesque mood hangs from the music. Clever wit (including a stage persona that amplifies the musician’s over-all intent) fuse these disparate elements together.

Mr. B and Professor Elemental - Chap Hop Rivals
Mr. B and Professor Elemental – Chap Hop Rivals

To get an idea of the artists covered by my Victrolacore label I would direct you to listening to Doctor Steel, Mr. B. the Gentleman Rhymer, and Professor Elemental. I would also include the work of Richard Cheese and Frisky and Mannish, as their work utilizes the same devices, only in reverse; they apply antiquated musical styling to current pop music, and produce the music live as opposed to using samples.

Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine
Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine

Key to all of these artists is being elegant ladies and gentlemen their work exudes, each with deeply satisfying satirical effect. Especially enjoyable is how the unrelentingly evil Doctor Steel is careful to observe proper social etiquette in his quest for world domination.

Buried deep in the whole experience of these artists is, I believe, the central tenet also found in dandyism, and one I’ve written about before. The  Worker-Dandyist International says it best:

“…define our Dandyism, in essence, as simply making as much of an effort as possible with the limited resources available.  An effort in sartorial flair and individuality, an effort in civility, social responsibility and courtesy, and an effort in communal culture, welfare and hedonism.”

and Charles Baudelaire puts it best, that,

“Dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

Victrolacore musically expresses this same flare. Rage on, good chums, rage on.

Article first published as Victrolacore – Satirical Music for the Sartorial Gentleman on Technorati.

Published by The Kingpin

Kingpin's Hideaway is a gentlemens outfitter specializing in designer and vintage clothing and accessories. Getting men to dress like grownups since 1986. Kingpin Chic is gentlemenswear. With balls.

11 thoughts on “Victrolacore – Satirical Music for the Sartorial Gentleman

  1. But what about Gramophonewave!!? I’ve just been calling this stuff Vintage or Old World revival. Neo-Cabaret has also been used. Sepiachord is another common term, which comes from the website/blog of the same name. We jokingly call our project Steamwave. The 21st century seems to be the age of making up genre names every five minutes for every possible combination of existing genres.

    1. You make an excellent point, Joshua! As with any term applied to a selection of music it may only approximate a specific perspective. Depending on the terms of the selection a song, or band, might belong to several of these groupings. This is fair enough, as the same song or band has influenced several sounds. The Who, for example, can be placed in the proto-punk realm, the garage band realm, the classic rock realm, the British invasion realm and the blues realm (Daltry’s version of Mannish Boy bridges the gap between blues and punk so well!).

      With this in mind I came up with victrolacore to encapsulate musical acts where referencing perceived innocent cultural tropes from the past is intentionally mixed with a punk rock perspective. This may produce a forlorn or dissonant sound like what is found on sepiachord or it may be the crooner sound of Richard Cheese. What sets Victrolacore apart from the ones you mention are two things; the first is the use of the -core suffix which implies a coarser, punk attitude than the -wave suffix would. The second is that humour is also something that is found in victrolacore music, usually of the sardonic or satirical kind.

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