Christmas Album (Bandcamp) CD/DL/ST
Love it or loathe it, it’s a Christmas Album!
Does the term Christmas Album fill your boots with slushy snow, or does it make your jingle jangle? Christmas can be both a time of joy and a time of despair, depending on your experiences and where you are in your life right now. It’s full of sociable get togethers, or a burden of loneliness. The latest release from Synthetic Villains (the solo project of Richard Turner) though, isn’t your traditional Christmas release. This is Christmas as you may remember it, played by an over-enthusiastic Uncle on his brand new Santa delivered keyboard; that is if your over-enthusiastic Uncle happens to be a really cool musician who doesn’t only play the keyboard but a bit of a mean guitar, can programme a drum machine, and loves going lo-fi over a few trad. Christmas tunes, whilst knocking off a few of his own.
Even if the recordings weren’t called Christmas Album, as soon as the hauntingly evocative notes of Silent Night prelude the project you’re sucked into a world of snow, hope, loss and longing. Silent Night (reprise) also ends the album, but the last version could be a lost Velvet Underground recording, with a wonderfully laid back guitar riff. Between those songs we get a garage guitar version of We Three Kings with a dirty electronic beat, a melancholic guitar riff whispering through Holly and the Ivy that, with its empty spaces, creates a feeling of winter, and almost a show tune version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen which becomes more folk tinged as it progresses.
There’s a funky version of Deck The Halls, with a seriously bomping drum beat, and a version of Carol Of The Bells which, eerily, had me thinking of a John Carpenter soundtrack, and a version of We Wish You A Merry Christmas that is so full of Christmas spirit you may get drunk on it, and which segues into a rather cool Americana chill out version.
Of the four originals here, Reindeer Stomp is the stand out, fitting in with the classics perfectly, but Load The Sleigh has a great tune that is reminiscent of falling snow.
If you want to get in the mood for the festive season then this is the perfect way.
You can find Synthetic Villains online here.
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