Selections from my annual Xmas albums 2008-2013. Despite their profound unpopularity, I really liked these albums. The benefit of a Greatest Hits compilation is that the signal:noise ratio is now slightly improved.
These vignettes are in vintage form. There was no room in the budget to remaster these masterpieces. Hence, this master’s masters must mostly (maybe unmercifully?) remain masterfully unremastered.
Masters of Power, the Greatest Rock Band in the History of the Earth, is included to lighten the mood and inspire you to form your own basement band.
For best results, listen on devices that sound like this:
1) “Jingle Bells” – An innocent beginning to a heart-warming album.
2) “The Holly and the Ivy” – A traditional carol played in a mature French organ style, but played on 50s-80s organs. The text is interrupted after the two juiciest Christmas activities imaginable: playing the organ and singing in the choir. Who needs the rest of the text?
3) “On Christmas Night” – A traditional carol sung as if I’m an organ. The extra noises between the words are what the people singing might sound like.
4) “The First Noel” – Whistling in harmony is harder than you’d guess. Try it with friends some time. You end up smiling too much to whistle!
5) “O Christmas Tree” – German classic presented in the style of an 80s hair band ballad.
6) “Deck the Hall” – Traditional carol chewed to bits. Instrument: three fresh organic carrots. This was recorded in one messy take with debris all over the table.
7) “Angels We Have Heard on High” – Voices layered using a cheap headset microphone.
8) “Merry Ukulele” – Three familiar tunes played on my prized ukulele.
9) “Brich an, Morgenlicht” – J.S. Bach on neoclassic organs.
10) “In the Bleak Midwinter” – Synthetic impressionist wintery soundscape.
11) “Spooky Mystery” – Let’s just say I’m not sure how fair use copyright laws work, hence the new title for this piece.
The concept used on this track: minor everything, potentially-evil-sounding backtracking, ominous holiday greetings, and spinto baritone vocals (to people who don’t know what that means, that itself is a contradiction; think Domingo in his 60s doing baritone roles). I won’t spend much time on this concept in the future, but I will hit “repeat” and turn up the volume.
12) “Happily, Old Boys Looked” – Another title where I’m not sure how fair use works on projects with no profit motive…
Here’s the concept used on this track:
- Instrumental tone: Moon Patrol (one of the best games for Commodore 64)
- Vocal tone: someone with Ankyloglossia (tongue tie) who is also wearing a retainer
- Beat experiment: can one establish a beat without using a thumping bass drum?
- Low Hz: given the lack a thumping bass drum, what can be done with all that empty space down there?
- Autotune: how to play with this cool technology while obviously also disdaining it? (answer: see bullet #2)
Who says all concepts need to be geared for commercial appeal?
MIDI and autotune are clearly used here.
13) “Snowfall” – If snowflakes falling on a calm day weren’t so stubbornly quiet, perhaps they’d sound like this.
14) “Denn Er Hatt Seinen Engeln” – My first attempt at singing choral music on my own. Special thanks to Mendelssohn for the nice notes and for almost making this a Christmas carol.
Partial auto-tune warning: the soprano and alto parts are 50% me singing the written pitches, 50% me singing the notes an octave down and pitch-shifting them up an octave.
15) “O Come All Ye Faithful” – What a nice tone when served in small portions!
16) “Jingle Bells in a Snowstorm” – In the midst of fiercely blowing snow, a brief hint of the familiar tune emerges. Xmas for Yeti, Wampa, or Manitoban.
This music was played in a single take using a fun toy in the basement that has lots of knobs and dials.
17) “Oh Du Fröhliche” – Traditional carol sung the way it’d sound if multi-track outdoor caroling was already ubiquitous and we lived on the same street.
18) “The Opposite of Silent Night (feat. Masters of Power)” – In case you took the rest of this album seriously, please realize your error now.
Franz Gruber’s traditional carol butchered by DRW and CGD.
19) “Mr. Desktop Percussion” – Another fair use mystery, here’s another newly descriptive title. No pens, cups, or keys were harmed producing this track.
This may be my favourite home recording of all time. This is how life sounds inside my head.
20) “Twas in the Moon of Wintertime (feat. Masters of Power)” – Traditional carol obliterated by the Greatest Rock Band in the History of the Planet.