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Once Upon A Time (In Space)

by The Mechanisms

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    Includes unlimited streaming of Once Upon A Time (In Space) via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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'Once' 00:35
“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.”
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 CHORUS 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. CHORUS 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 CHORUS “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. CHORUS
'The Twins' 01:56
“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…
Rose Red 03:39
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. INSTRUMENTAL 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.
“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.
Pump Shanty 02:49
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. CHORUS 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. CHORUS 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 CHORUS 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 CHORUS 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. CHORUS 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! CHORUS 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!” CHORUS INSTRUMENTAL CHORUS x2
'The Bride' 01:20
“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.”
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.
“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."
Our Boy Jack 02:07
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.
“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.
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.
'Endgame' 00:51
“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.”
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 INSTRUMENTAL 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
“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.”
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 INSTRUMENTAL 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. “THE END”


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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