Once Upon A Time (In Space)

by The Mechanisms

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and-lose-the-name-of-action This is the best thing I have heard in a while - amazing music and story. What's not to love? Also lesbians in space, pirates in space and fighting in space!!! Quality stuff. Favorite track: Sleeping Beauty.
Nausicaä Enriquez
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Nausicaä Enriquez This album has taken over most of my walking playlist -- full of tunes to sing when I'm out on a ramble under the sun and leaves and pretending I'm an FA-VN humanoid chimera.

(It was a big toss-up between Pump Shanty, Cinders' Song, and Sleeping Beauty, but in the end I've gotta go for shanties.) Favorite track: Pump Shanty.
Tomás M.C.
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Tomás M.C. An epic tale hearkening back to the spoken tales of classical poetry - heartily recommended. Favorite track: Old King Cole.
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    A physical copy of this acclaimed work of oral history contained on compact disc. Also contains a starmap of important places and notes concerning the provenance of much of the material.

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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 7 The Mechanisms releases available on Bandcamp.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Tales To Be Told, Volume II, The Bifrost Incident, Frankenstein, High Noon Over Camelot, Tales To Be Told, Ulysses Dies At Dawn, and Once Upon A Time (In Space). , and , .

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This tale tells of those embroiled in the rebellion against the tyrant of New Constantinople, Old King Cole. It tells of the love of Cinders for her captured Rose, of the treatment of Rose at the hands of Cole's genetic scientists, and of the bold but savage leadership of the rebel General Snow. And it tells of the final fates of all of these.

This is the Mechanisms' first studio album, recording the set which they have been playing live since early 2011 and which they presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2012.


released August 4, 2012

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Grannyflat Studios by Mish Pharaon.
Artwork by Ruth Wilkinson and the Mechanisms.




The Mechanisms Oxford, UK

The Mechanisms: a band of immortal space pirates roaming the universe in the starship Aurora. Some say they’re from a steampunk future, others claim they’re from a cyberpunk past, a few even whisper that they may be from a dieselpunk alternate now. They are all correct. ... more

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Track Name: 'Once'
“Once, in a far off sector of a very old galaxy, there lived a king. There was a time, long ago, when he might have been called a good king, a wise king, perhaps even merry. But the technology that had kept him alive through the centuries had warped his mind as it had withered his body, and soon his soul grew red with the lust for conquest.”
Track Name: Old King Cole
Old King Cole was a brutal soul, and a bloody old soul had he
He called for his mead and his gun so cold, and he called for his little pigs three
Now every piggy had a razor blade and sharpened it with glee
Oh, far and near, they all learn fear from King Cole and his little pigs three

Factories churn, bodies burn,
Stars are shining bright.
It’s your turn, now you learn
How King Cole feasts tonight

Old King Cole was not missold, of years he had a hundred score,
The dark appliance of infernal science would give him millennia more
And he would watch as the suns burned out, collapsing from their core
Oh, never to forgive he would eternal live, his hands stained red from gore.


Old King Cole had conquered and stole the wealth of a thousand suns
Surrounded was he by bodyguards three, who murdered for their sovereign’s fun
Arrayed in armour black as ebony, it did no good to run
Whatever the task, the grim pig mask would tell you that your days were done


“In the centre of Zantine, capitol city of New Constantinople, there stood a vast palace. Cavernous halls by their hundreds were cared for by staff too numerous to count, while beneath, tunnels and passageways unused for a dozen lifetimes sprawled under the city like a spider’s web, reaching every nook and lurking place. Somewhere at the centre of this labyrinth, there stood a small, unremarkable chamber, roughly hewn from thick black rock, where King Cole sat on his white throne. His shrivelled frame seemed all the more twisted and unnatural on its ivory bulk, surrounded, as always, by the three little pigs: silent guardians who never spoke as the blood pooled on the floor before their ruler. The feast was soon to begin.”

Old King Cole had a tale he told to those brought before his throne.
Immense and white it gleamed in the night, the colour of sun-bleached bone.
He’d whisper softly in their ear, the words were never known.
None could tell what he said, save for the dead and the three little pigs alone.

Track Name: 'The Twins'
“Now, as King Cole turned his envious eyes towards empire, a pair of twins were born to one of the noblest families of his kingdom. Two beautiful baby girls named Snow and Rose. As they grew, it became clear that the day of their birth was the only thing they had in common. Snow was possessed of long, lustrous black hair, and grew into a great politician, always urging peace and diplomacy among the aging warmongers of the royal court; while Rose, with her short shock of scarlet hair, became the finest warrior of the imperial army. And so it came to pass that the King, desperate for a force that could never be defeated, never be stopped, had Rose seized on her wedding day, to be used as the genetic basis for this unholy horde.”

Old King Cole: Dr Hansel? How goes our project?
Dr Hansel: My liege! I was not informed you would be…
Cole: Of course not! Do you take me for a fool? I announce my movements to no one. Is this her?
Hansel: Yes, my liege. She has proven more resilient than expected, but the first consignment of Rose Reds should be ready within the month.
Cole: Excellent work, doctor. You and your sister have served me well.
Dr Gretal: Thank you, your majesty. Soon you shall have an unending supply of the finest soldiers: knowing no pain, no fear…
Cole: What? No! No no no no. Doctor, pain and fear are important tools for survival. A good soldier should be able to overcome them, but they must feel them. No, make sure she knows pain, and make sure she knows fear…
Track Name: Rose Red
Rose rose rose red, will I ever see thee wed?
I will marry at thy will, sir, at thy will.
Ding dong, ding dong, wedding bells on an April morn
Carve thy name on a moss covered stone, on a moss covered stone.

Rose rose rose red, she has fought and she has bled
Waging war on a hundred worlds, on a thousand battleground.
Open fire, open fire, turn your home to a funeral pyre,
All she knows is pain and death and a moss-covered stone.

Rose rose rose red, eternity shall see her dead
Always marching on to fight to another bitter end.
Open fire, open fire, the flames of war can still burn higher
Carve that as your epitaph on your moss covered stone.


Rose rose rose red, will I ever see thee wed?
I will marry at thy will, sir, at thy will.
Ding dong, ding dong, wedding bells on an April morn
Carve thy name on a moss covered stone, on a moss covered stone.
Track Name: 'Snow's Flight'
“When the soldiers seized Rose at the altar, they slaughtered everyone present, and when the dust cleared, there were only two survivors. One was Snow, badly wounded, who managed to drag herself to refuge, though she lost much of herself doing so. No longer safe on New Constantinople, Snow gathered what nobles and warriors would support her and fled on the SS Anderson. But they were betrayed, and a bomb hidden in a food shipment detonated, crippling their ship mid-flight.”

Snow: Doctor Lorenzo, what’s our status?
Doc: There’s you, me and six other survivors, but colonel Tuco’s badly injured.
Snow: Mr Greyditch, how’s the ship?
Grumpy: Simply put, we are dead. With this much damage to the engines it will take days to reach Dacia, and the oxygen pumping system gone. We have barely an hour of breathing left. We are dead.
Snow: What about an override? Could we pump air manually?
Grumpy: Are you insane? It will never work!
Doc: It might be possible, but we don’t have the man-power, especially with the colonel…
Dopey: Don’t you listed to that grumpy bastard, Doc. The medical bay wasn’t hit and I am so doped up right now, I feel like I could work forever. The lady says pump, we pump.
Track Name: Pump Shanty
Some wiser man than I once spoke
That life at heart is all a joke
But he was not embroiled in smoke
So it’s pump, me boys, before we choke.

Pump, me boys, let her fly
Down to hell and up to the sky
Bend your backs and break your bones
We’re just a million miles from home.

The image of my sweetheart’s face
It fires my heart and sets the pace
Whate’er the time, whate’er the place
I’ll find him through the depths of space.


I long to lie atop my bed
With pleasant dreams inside my head
But pumping’s all I get instead
I’ll only sleep among the dead


My blood is pooling on the floor
And every second I lose more,
But there’s so many meds in store
I’ll do the work of three or four


The engine fumes will scorch your lungs
The air is thick, your eyes are stung,
But there’s no clean air left to run
This pumping business ain’t much fun.


The outer hull is shot to hell
The thrust has just one plasma cell
My joints and muscles ache and swell
So fuck the Rose, and you as well!


A transport mission gone awry,
Attacked by Cole and left to fry,
Is no excuse, boys, let us cry:
“Today is not the day we die!”



Track Name: 'The Bride'
“After three days without food, water or rest, Snow and the seven survivors reached Dacia. There, assuming the identity of General White, she began to build a partisan resistance.
There was, of course, another survivor of Rose’ wedding: the bride. The young lady Rose was to marry had been born a princess, though her father’s death had allowed her stepmother and sisters to surrender their beleaguered planet of Ostrogoth to Cole long ago. Named for the ashes of her world, she was known only as Cinders. Yet it was she Rose loved, and she that would have wed, if not for the king’s ambition. Cinders fled, taking to the stars to search for her betrothed. Decades passed as she longed for the day the jewel on her wedding band would turn from white to red, showing her love was near. And as she searched, she sang.”
Track Name: Cinders' Song
When I was a little girl, my mother always told me
“Someday your prince will come, my love”
But as I grew, I knew it was a princess who would hold me.
I looked to the stars for you, my love.

Oh my love, as the cannons were a-blazing
I looked to the stars for you, my love
Oh my love, as our cities you were razing
I looked to the stars for you, my love

My world was left a-burning and my royal house a-bleeding
I looked to the stars for you, my love
My stepmother and sisters betrayed our world, conceding
I looked to the stars for you, my love

Oh my love, as they took me to the prison
I looked through the bars and saw you, my love
Oh my love, my soul was then arisen
I looked through the scars to you, my love

A godmother in white, she came, and took me to your crimson
You held me at last in your arms, my love
Together now, we longed to hear the matrimonial hymn sung
Eternally bound to you, my love

Oh my love, as the soldiers opened fire
On our wedding day, I ran, my love
Forgive me, my love, as I fled ever higher
I ran to the stars without you, my love

Years have passed, yet still I search, I know they cannot hide you
I look through the stars for you, my love
The ring will take me to you and the life they have denied you
I look through the stars for you, my love

Oh my love, we shall finally be together
I look through the stars for you, my love
Oh my love, held in your arms forever
Your princess will come for you, my love
Oh my love, oh my love,
Your Cinders will come for you, my love.
Track Name: 'The Resistance Grows'
“As the years passed, the resistance spread quickly from world to world, through the void, reaching everywhere touched by King Cole’s bony hand, until soon, it blossomed into full rebellion: a guerrilla army harrowing the royal garrisons at any opportunity. Led by General White, their tactics were cruel and vicious, as befitted their despotic foe, but there were heroes: The young lady known only as Hood, who would seize control of Red Army vehicles and pilot them into battle; or the beautiful Colonel Belle, a tactical genius, guarded at all times by her savage husband. Of them all, none became as well-known as Corporal John Spratt, known to his friends as “Mad Jack” or “Giant Killer”, after he single-handedly destroyed one of the Red Behemoths. He was also known for standing in the open during orbital bombardments, seemingly oblivious to the destruction. He was eventually captured and killed, of course, but if you tuned your radio right of an evening, you might have heard the unofficial anthem of the resistance."
Track Name: Our Boy Jack
Oh when the red rose, it comes a-marching
Well, we will fight, we will fight, fight for our boy Jack
Oh when the red rose, it comes a-marching
Spit in the face of history.

And when the giants, they come a-rolling
Well, we will fight, we will fight, fight for our boy Jack
When the giants, they come a-rolling
If he can slay them, so can we

And when the cannons rain down from orbit
Well, we will stand, we will stand, stand like our boy Jack
When the cannons rain down from orbit
Then we shall stand with dignity

And when the Rose comes over the water
Then we will sink them, we’ll sink them for our boy Jack
When the Rose comes over the water
Then we will sink them in their sea

And when the whiskey, it starts a-flowing
Then we shall drink, we shall drink, drink to our boy Jack
When the whiskey, it starts a-flowing
Then let us pour it fast and free

And when they hunt us, they shall not find us
For we’ll be quick, we’ll be quick, quick like our boy Jack
When they hunt us, they shall not find us
And we shall live in infamy

And when my body is lost and broken
Then I shall rest, I shall rest down with our boy Jack
When my body is lost and broken
Well, then boys, you fight for me

And when the red rose, it comes a-marching
Well, we will fight, we will fight, fight for our boy Jack
Oh when the red rose, it comes a-marching
Spit in the face of history.
Spit in the face of history.
Track Name: 'The Aurora Strikes'
“Of course, in reality Jack was simply a boy gone to war too young. Unable to cope, he turned to drink, and was usually too liquored up to find cover during the bombardments. The destruction of the behemoth was the doing of his Captain, who had not survived the task, while Jack hid like a coward. But heroes have been made out of less, and, if I recall correctly, he died well.
Now, the war had been going close to thirty years by this point. The crew of the Aurora and myself had been watching, fascinated, for most of this time: I find a good war always gives a century that little bit of extra zest. But it was then that we discovered something interesting. The planetary defence grid surrounding New Constantinople, heart of the empire, was mostly comprised of Thorn class gun platforms, rendering all but impenetrable, yet the network had a human component: a single, unconscious mind at the heart of it. Her immune system linked to the satellites, keeping them operational. And this bothered Nastya.”

Nastya: Jonny, this is not up for discussion.
Jonny: That’s Captain D’Ville. And I don’t understand. We’ve spent the last three decades watching billions die and having a great time. Now suddenly your all about rescuing one poor innocent victim. I don’t buy it.
Nastya: It is not I that it bothers. It is Aurora. It is our ship.
Jonny: Fuck the ship.
Nastya: I do.
Jonny: Ew.
Nastya: It is too late for objections, anyway, Ivy has already laid a course.
Jonny: Ivy? That insubordinate… Fine. You do realise that by taking down the grid we may end this war.
Nastya: If that is what must be done.
Jonny: Dammit. I really liked this war. But I suppose it has been a while since we’ve committed any decent violence. Let’s go.
Track Name: Sleeping Beauty
Trapped within the warmth and the darkness, from the waking world I was torn
Never leaving dreamless slumber, in a mind that broken and worn
Guarded by uncounted ready guns and blades
Sharper than a barrier of thorns

Once, out in the sky I was happy, faintly I remember the sun
Soaring through the dawn and it brightness, battle, beauty, both had I won
Then a flash of pain as the metal pierces flesh
And all at once my roaming was done

Wires through my veins and tendons, keeping safe my hateful old lord
Protecting his infernal defence grid, unwillingly my lifeblood is poured
I once heard tell a kiss could wake me
But I hope my prince will bring me a sword

Take Aurora in gently, Nastya, let’s see what these Rosies can do
Gotta say I’m in the mood for violence and I reckon you might be too
Let’s get this party started the only way we know
Gunfire and explosions, that’s our cue.

Fire ‘til your guns are empty, ‘til your ammunition runs dry
If you’re finished playing at soldiers you might have noticed we cannot die
I suggest you beat a fucking tactical retreat
Or we’ll let slip the dogs of war and havoc cry

Jonny: Is that her? How do we wake her up?
Nastya: You could try kissing her.
Jonny: I’m not going to kiss a sleeping stranger, Nastya. That would be really fucking creepy.
Nastya: Or you could shoot the machines until it shuts down.
Jonny: That’s better. *gunshots* Huh, guess that did the trick.

Here within the central chamber, circled by the dead, Beauty sleeps,
Inching ever closer to freedom, there beyond the glass, still she weeps
I wonder what surprises the waking world will hold
As gradually consciousness creeps.
Track Name: 'Endgame'
“With the core gone, it didn’t take the resistance long to disable the defence grid with the help of the Red Riding Hood, using a more powerful variation of the Wolf virus she had been using to hijack the behemoths. Soon, every rebel ship for a hundred systems swarmed in the skies above Zantine, Cole’s capitol, while on the ground the King mustered his loyal forces for the final counterattack. And on that morning, the last they would ever see, General White and Old King Cole addressed their troops, and the final gambit was begun.”
Track Name: No Happy Ending
Some call us heroes and some call us fools
And all say we’re destined for defeat
But damn their eyes, if I must die
At least I can do it on my feet
The bitter old king and his sick regime
Have pushed us all beyond the edge
We’re brutal and cruel as we battle his rule
For we learned from the tyrant’s tutelage
Now’s our chance, choke down your pain
We can end this bastard’s reign.

The battle line’s drawn
All hope forlorn
Prepare your souls
There’s no happy ending in sight for us.

Listen my people and hear my words
Harken to the voice of you lord
The rebels decend, let’s make an end
Of them: cannon and bullet and knife and sword
Lay down your lives in defence of your king
We’ll shore up the walls with the loyal dead
Spill your blood in a crimson flood
The wolves of war shall soon be fed
Now our backs are to the wall,
Stand your ground we shall not fall.

We go to war
With tooth and claw
Prepare your souls
There’s no happy ending in sight for us


So reload your rifles and whet your blades
The midday sun calls us to fight
Our sacrifice shall be the price
Of doing our duty for what is right
The names of our fallen shall long be sung
In ballad and poem for years untold
Let’s end the tale, we must not fail
Be stalwart and true, my heroes bold
There’s no refuge for defeat
No surrender, no retreat.

The end comes near
Face your fear
Prepare your souls
There’s no happy ending in sight for us
Track Name: 'Chapter The Last'
“And so the battle was joined. I shall not relate the worst of the atrocities, but suffice to say that blood and fire fell from the skies, while on the ground the bodies of the wounded and slain festered in the gutters, providing cover and camouflage for those still living.
When Cinders arrived, she knew Rose was near and joined General White and her surviving troops, these days remembered as the Noble Twenty Three (a lie, of course, but a pretty one). She led them into the Undercity, following her ever-darkening ring towards her beloved imprisoned in the throne room of the doomed king.
They found the three pigs waiting. The battle was brief, with rebels falling by the dozen before their black iron foes, until Cinders, seeing her betrothed at long last, shattered the prison with a single shot. Rose opened her eyes and, after three decades, her first sight was of her sister Snow, falling lifeless to the floor. Nothing could contain Rose’ rage: one by one she broke, snapped and shattered the three little pigs with her bare hands, leaving them nothing but still, hollowed out husks. And then she saw Cinders. For one perfect moment, Rose and Cinders embraced. Then King Cole shot Rose in the back.
As she held her wife and watched the life drain from her eyes, Cinders’ fist clenched, her eyes narrowed, and her newly-red wedding ring plunged into the desiccated black heart of the old king. There was a great crash as his Ivory throne split, and then silence.
A long, bitter silence. Broken only by the sobbing of Cinders, weeping over her lost love.”
Track Name: Laid In Blood
Twenty three warriors and a King, laid in blood when the battle has done
The price of a long due reckoning, laid in blood when the battle has done
Old King Cole has paid the toll of the crimes levied upon his soul
The rebel blades have achieved their goal, laid in blood when the battle has done
His mouth hangs open, and his eyes are wild, with a gaping hole is his chest defiled
While round his throne room the dead lie piled, laid in blood when the battle has done

Twenty three warriors and General White, laid in blood when the battle has done
Fought like the devil in the dead of night, laid in blood when the battle has done
Believed in peace, yet marched to war, shot through the heart, dead upon the floor
Covered in her own and her sister’s gore, laid in blood when the battle has done
With an army to lead and a war to win, put the bullet to dozens of her own kin
Atoning for some vast and secret sin, laid in blood when the battle has done

Twenty three warriors and Rose Red, laid in blood when the battle has done
While outside the door many more lay dead, laid in blood when the battle has done
Her body lies in her wife’s caress, her face finally free of her life’s distress
Wearing the rags of her wedding dress, laid in blood when the battle has done
Released from her cell, like the wrath of hell, the three little pigs to her anger fell
But King Cole sounded her funeral knell, laid in blood when the battle has done

Twenty three warriors gone to their rest, laid in blood when the battle has done
Fought with the worst and died with the best, laid in blood when the battle has done
Cinders saw her betrothed at last, her beauty untouched by the decades past
Then the old king fired and it went too fast, laid in blood when the battle has done
The girl to whom through the years she’d sing, dead at the hand of the thrice-damned king
She pieced his chest with her scarlet ring, laid in blood when the battle has done


Their bodies are still and their blood is cold, the book is closed and the story told.
No Happily Ever After for a tale so old, laid in blood when the battle has done.


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