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Sounds of Christmas
Merry Christmas, may all your holidays be bright. Our last Christmas compilation was back in 2004. A lot has changed around over the past couple years, but we're pleased to have some of our old friends returning & a ton of new friends around as well for 28 tracks & over a hundred minutes of music. You can download the music for free or buy a physical copy from us. Thank you all for your love & interest.
Physical copy (2xCD-R) $12 ($15 international)
Origami Tacet - Remembrance (video edit)
immune - the gleams remained after the blast
Rachel Goldstar - christmas day
Siberia - Hibernation (Coda)
living in photographs - Barabbas
Small Life Form - bells & envelopes
Electric Bird Noise - Christmas with Reilly
The Zanzibar Snails - In the Land of Nod
Plumerai - Crucifixed
Remora - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Sailor Winters - What Child Is This?
Shiny Around the Edges - The Christmas Song
Peter Aldrich - Finger Pick Prince of Peace
Wrong Brothers - Slay Bells
Bokor - Secrets
230 divisadero - Storm in December
Moral Crayfish - He was disturbed, and all of Jerusalem with him
South West Airline - Sweet Sweet
recorded home - no sound around
Remora - What Can I Give Him?
Duane Pitre/Pilotram - Piano Impovisation for Mr. Cage
Mars Field - Jesus Christ
Goddakk vs JM - A Winter Rhythm In You (featuring Sue Zen)
Blessed Child Opera - Broken Breeze
My Ambient Nature Girl - Handel's Messiah Part 4
The Wades - The Snow
The Torch Marauder featuring Matt Westlake - At Blitzen's Funeral
The Upsidedown Stars - Hark, the Herald Angel Sings
As a starting point to this
review and I don’t know if it really matters, but I personally really dislike
Christmas. My family stopped celebrating Christmas a few years ago, so
there’s no pretty packages waiting under a tree for me come Christmas morning,
and besides that I’m not religious in the slightest and most importantly
I really, really hate the Christmas music I have to hear at work all night.
Good thing this isn’t a typical Christmas music compilation.
With that unpleasantness put aside let me get right to the point and say that this compilation offers up a lot of music (one hour and forty three minutes) with the cool price tag of being absolutely free. Download this monster right here.
There are some bands doing a few straightforward covers of classic Christmas songs like Shiny Around the Edges performing ‘The Christmas Song’ & Mars Field with ‘Jesus Christ.’ None of these are really my thing and that’s mostly because they sound close to the originals and as I’ve already said I’m not one for Christmas music. There are also a bunch of classic Christmas songs that have received the good ‘ol rearranged and reinterpreted format such as The Upsidedown Stars with ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,’ Sailor Winters with ‘What Child Is This?’ & Remora with ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ & ‘What Can I Give Him?’ The rest of the compilation is mostly newer compositions from old and new Silber artists/friends performing songs that have references to Christmas and winter, but are surely not typical Christmas music.
The styles present are as you can probably imagine rather diverse; neo classical, guitar drones, alternative pop/rock, ambient, experimental sounds, electronic, rock, noise, and acoustic. Quite a bit to take in, but it all gels rather nicely together. As already mentioned this compilation is absolutely free so head on over to Silber and check out this enjoyable compilation and play it while opening all your gifts Christmas morning. I also accept free gifts if anyone wants to send me anything. :)
~ Joe Mlodik, Lunar Hypnosis
A wonderful collection (27
artists) that for all its unusual material still sounds to me about as
sentimental as music gets. This 2006 installment in Silber’s series of
Christmas comps invokes the religious/wintery aspects of the season, and,
not surprisingly, given the label, an ambient/drone aesthetic looms over
the collection. The tracks have a cold, somewhat bleak feel, whether they’re
ambient, noise, fast or slow pop, solo improv, or, well, Christmas Music.
Brian John Mitchell checks in with his always-intriguing Small Life Form
and Remora projects, and I’m glad excellent guitarist Peter Aldrich is
still in the fold; however many of my other favorite Silber artists from
years gone by are absent this time out. Not to worry, though, as there
is plenty of good material from a newer crop of Silberfriends such as Immune,
Electric Bird Noise, Plumerai, Bokor, Mars Field, Blessed Child Opera,
The Wades, and many more. Too many good tracks to name, but standouts for
me include the tweaked a cappella of ‘The Christmas Song’ by Shiny Around
The Edges, the blurry rocker by South West Airline, the lovely solo piano
piece by Duane Pitre, and the seriously noise-corrupted versions of ‘What
Child is This?’ and ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’. Happy Holidays, musical
~ Max Level, KFJC
So this is Christmas, and
what have you done? Well John, if you could drop that accusatory tone for
just a second you’d discover that various chums of Silber Records have
recorded a compilation that’s as fat as a spoiled child’s stocking. Or
even as fat as a spoiled child. It’s generously available as a free download,
so if you want to add some thrilling, web-based interactivity to this review,
you can head over there and concurrently listen to any tracks which tweak
your interest. Please be aware that any written-word-to-actual-sound discrepancies
you may experience during this process are most likely down to some kind
of inner-ear imbalance.
Like the aforementioned stocking, the contents of this comp are a little hotchpotch. Though some offerings will feel like receiving a fantastic toy or delicious chocolates, other parts will be more akin to pulling out an indefinable plastic makeweight. With so many different artists across a substantial amount of tracks (28, fact fans) this is somewhat inevitable, as a variety of styles are explored within a broad spectrum. Loosely speaking though, Silber are the bus terminal in which bands defining themselves as ambient and darkwave meet up and take a ride to drone central, only to discover that the seats are made out of weird electronic sounds, scratchy violins, and other assorted oddities of noise.
As it’s a seasonal affair, a fair few of these tracks are covers of Christmas favorites—although they generally bear about as much resemblance to the originals as the curious womble-alien half-breed on the record cover does to jolly old Saint Nick. Remora’s take on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” for example, would probably sound more at home accompanying a panoramic sweep of an alien craft, cruising ominously around the universe. Familiar notes are audible somewhere in the mix, but the foreboding echo of recurring delay-washes crush all resistance. It’s an intriguing approach, but slightly undermined by a track-listing that places a cover of “What Child Is This?” (which adopts an identical tactic) immediately following. This time, the recognizable melody seems to be struggling against a vicious horde of bees that have descended upon the pianist at an unhelpful moment. Our plucky hero is eventually saved by some enthusiastic hoovering, which fortuitously removes the bees but doesn’t contribute much to the listening experience.
Some of the real treats can be found outside the Christmas stable entirely. “The Gleams Remained After the Blast” could just as easily be soundtracking an irradiated dystopian world, or what happens inside your fridge when the door is closed and the milk pixies appear. Whichever interpretation you choose to lay on this understated piece of floating, pulsing ambience, it will still soothe and beguile. The same holds true for “In the Land of Nod” by the Zanzibar Snails, which is closer to replicating the flittering sound of vibrant insect life and distant thunder than sleigh bells and roasting chestnuts. Others, like Origami Tacet, hint at aspects of the traditional narrative—their heavy-stringed “Remembrance” motions enigmatically at expansive deserts and the Eastern mysticism of the three wise men.
Back in the covers corner, a shining star appears in the form of My Ambient Nature Girl’s retelling of “Handel’s Messiah (Part 4).” Supplemented by the merest suggestion of a choir, harmoniously complementing the cascading sparkles of sound, the song seems to encapsulate the finer moments of this Silber selection. Different, without having to force the difference. Beautiful, without being pretentiously so.
~ Peter Parrish, Stylus
Say you work in the service
industry-- maybe in a coffee shop, record store or café-- for a
company that's cool enough to let its employees select the in-house music
during their shifts, but lame enough to require the dispensation of Christmas-themed
music around the holidays. Say also that you like chaotic, convulsive music,
and that the joy of tormenting your customers with harsh noise is surpassed
only by the sorrow of listening to corporately-mandated compilations of
Yuletide favorites each winter. You, my glum friend, have found a loophole
in the Silber Sounds of Christmas compilation. Sailor Winters' version
of "What Child is This?" isn't the best thing on the album, but it's the
most amenable to extracting sonic vengeance on the voracious petit-bourgeoisie.
The song's sprightly piano melody sounds lonesome, submerged in billowing
static; it gives up entirely as the amorphous noise begins to cascade,
saturating the speakers in a dark, grainy haze. Things get seriously spooky
when a pendulum-like roar starts swooshing through the mix. What child
is this, anyway? Echoing drums describe the approach of massive footsteps,
evoking some terrible and countryside-scourging giant. Jesus is coming--
~ Bryan Howe, Pitchfork
28 More Things to Love About
1 Origami Tacet - “Remembrance” (video edit)
2 Immune - “The Gleams Remained After the Blast”
3 Rachel Goldstar - “Christmas Day”
4 Siberia - “Hibernation (Coda)” 5 Living in Photographs - “Barabbas”
6 Small Life Form - “Bells & Envelopes”
7 Electric Bird Noise - “Christmas with Reilly”
8 The Zanzibar Snails - “In the Land of Nod”
9 Plumerai - “Crucifixed”
10 Remora - “O Come, O come, Emmanuel”
11 Sailor Winters - “What Child Is This?”
12 Shiny Around the Edges - “The Christmas Song”
13 Peter Aldrich - “Finger Pick Prince of Peace”
14 Wrong Brothers - “Slay Bells”
15 Bokor - “Secrets”
16 230 Divisadero - “Storm in December”
17 Moral Crayfish - “He Was Disturbed, and All of Jerusalem With Him”
18 South West Airline - “Sweet Sweet”
19 Recorded Home - “No Sound Around”
20 Remora - “What Can I Give Him?”
21 Duane Pitre/Pilotram - “Piano Improvisation for Mr. Cage”
22 Mars Field - “Jesus Christ”
23 Goddack vs JM - “A Winter Rhythm in You” (featuring Sue Zen)
24 Blessed Child Opera - “Broken Breeze”
25 My Ambient Nature Girl - “Handel’s Messiah Part 4”
26 The Wades - “The Snow”
27 The Torch Marauder featuring Matt Westlake - “At Blitzen’s Funeral”
28 The Upsidedown Stars - “Hark, the Herald Angel Sings”
No, we haven’t suffered a stroke. What the above list shows is the track number, artist name, and song title, respectively, of the brand spankin’ new Silber Sounds of Christmas compilation from Silber Records. The physical 2xCD-R version is available to order now, but in the true spirit of giving, the whole shebang is downloadable here for FREE! Bless you, sweet baby Silber Jebus!
Most keeners will remember Silber as the label that issued the solo album of guitar workouts by Alan Sparhawk (Low) earlier this year, named, curiously enough, Solo Guitar, but to keener-ers, the North Carolina record company has been a formidable provider of minimal, neo-classical, noisepop, drone, etc. since the mid-1990s. Although most of the acts on this third yuletide volume eat up Christmas spirit and spit it out like Gramps does with the errant stems in Mom’s homemade cranberry sauce, it is obvious they all carry the essential elements of the holy season inside their artistic hearts. Silber Sounds includes renditions of x-mas classics like Rachel Goldstar’s “Christmas Day” and Shiny Around the Edges’ “The Christmas Song,” seasonal tribute gifts such as “Piano Improvisation for John Cage” by Duane Pitre/Pilotram, the political incorrectness (but only if you take it out of its biblical context) of Moral Crayfish’s “He Was Disturbed, and All of Jerusalem With Him,” and possibly an ode to everybody’s favorite gifts, pre-op tranny hookers, in South West Airline’s “Sweet Sweet.” Drop in paeans to tinsel- and tonsil-hockey and you will almost be able to hear the sleighbells on the roof!
~ David Nadelle, Tiny Mix Tapes
Allow me to be frank: I fucking
Not to be a Scrooge about the whole holiday season but about the only thing I appreciate at this time of year is getting extra pay for working on Christmas Eve and since I won't be getting even this small titbit of noel merriment, my hatred of all things jolly in this season is fuelled considerably well.
If nothing else, I hate the onslaught of Christmas carols and songs, relentlessly played over and over and over again in shopping malls, doctors' surgeries, dentists' waiting rooms, on the radio, Hell they'd even play them in funeral parlours if they could get away with it. And what's with starting the damn things so early in December?
I'm sure I'm not alone with my animosity, and if this assumption is correct I have a wonderful Christmas surprise for you. For if you reach into Silber Records' long latex stocking this Christmas you may just find their second Christmas compilation. That's right folks, Silber Media, the people who bring you such groups as Kobi, Remora and Lycia have accumulated a plethora of musicians to strip bare, experiment and make anew all of the old Christmas time classics!
Ok so perhaps the compilation doesn't really do that much in the way of cover versions (though there are some gems dotted about) but fans of the label will appreciate that Silber's Sounds of Christmas II has a majority Drone theme to it, with ‘Remembrance', the opening track from Origami Tacet using violins to full brooding effect. This is followed by Immune's 'The Gleams Remained after the Blast', sounding like a lost track from Basil Kirchin's Worlds within Worlds projects.
It's not all doom and gloom however (it is Christmas after all) as Rachel Goldstar provides a more mellow, shoegazer sound with 'Christmas Day', a sound synonymous with the post punk/ grunge scene that the mainstream would have you believe had its last Christmas a long time ago.
Living in Photographs, as well as having a cool name, also provide a departure from Silber's usual Drone based sounds by adding an ambient electronica influence to their track 'Barabbas' and while still fitting to the ambient atmosphere of the compilation supply just enough variety to keep it all from going a little stale.
Those still waiting for Plumerai's new album can get some musical morphine in the shape of their one track contribution, 'Crucifixed', a track fused with a slightly more Darkwave feel than their previous outings and a style that fits them and the compilation comfortably.
'O Come, O Come Emmanuelle' by Remora is a supremely strong track, powering through a superfluity of weird noises that awakens you to a concept that Christmas is not always a time of good tidings. This followed by Sailor Winter's white noise polluted 'What Child is this?' and the unkind atmosphere is well and truly accomplished.
Slap on the second CD and you'll be welcomed by Bokor's ambient track, 'Secrets'. An interestingly conceptual name for a track on a Christmas themed album. I have a tendency to over examine things but with such a name on such an album and with the tranquil sound of the sea ever-present in this brooding ambient piece it is hard not to let such things rankle the psyche.
For a much more classical sound look no further then Duane Pitre and Pilotram's 'Piano Improvisation for Mr. Cage'. Exactly what it says in the title, this concise number by all accounts should stand out of place with the rest of Silber's Christmas content. On the contrary, it highlights just how diverse the label's talent and interests can be, showing a warmer, benevolent side rarely seen on Silber releases.
Mars Fields' following track also shows a less highlighted sound provided by Silber Media, with 'Jesus Christ' certainly belonging more to the American Neo Folk/ Country scene than to Drone or Ambient Noise, its off kilter sound having more akin with Black Happy Day (recently released on Silber) than some of the more established artists on the label such as Small Life Form or Remora.
My Ambient Nature Girl's track, however, brings the album straight back to Silber's roots, with 'Handel's Messiah Part 4' sounding like a cross between the melancholic euphoria of Sigur Ros drowned out by the strange beats and sounds of The Gasman on Planet Mu records, creating an altogether unique mixture of minimalist beats and warped notes with a tender, for lack of a better word, backdrop of sound.
And to top it off, my favourite of the entire collection and one that I'll be making my family's ears bleed to this Christmas; The Upside Down Stars version of 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing' a Drone/ Doom ladled piece that with its mixture of low vocal howls and repetitive distorted riffs should be played to maximum capacity on that day, the most sacred of days. Alas if only they played this sort of material in shopping malls.
It's hard to make a really good Christmas album, and in their way Silber have cheated slightly by including more than just reinventions of already existing Christmas material. But then as it was obviously their intention not to buy into the Christmas frivolity it's hardly a negative side. On the contrary this is perhaps the perfect Christmas album as the two CD collection encompasses all moods of the season and while some people wake up to nice presents and a loving family some will wake up to terminal illness and bereavement. It's nice to see an album cover those two extremes of moods via music. I envy those who live in the great open spaces of Canada and the Pacific North West, for if I did I would have the perfect album to drive to while viewing its halcyon winter landscape.
~ Michael Byrne, Left Hip
Si avvicina Natale e come
tradizione comanda c’è sempre qualcuno che tira fuori l’idea, non
proprio originalissima, di una compilation a tema natalizio. In questo
caso è la Silber, piccola etichetta americana (in catalogo tra gli
altri il fantastico debutto in solitario di Alan Sparhawk) che mette a
disposizione sia in formato classico, sia (udite, udite!) in download gratuito
questo doppio cd veramente particolare.
Nessuna strenna né campanellini sonanti; qui la materia è principalmente eterea e sognante, impalpabile proprio come la neve che imbianca questo periodo dell’anno, ma mai di maniera o scontata.
Si alternano quindi glitchismi vari (Living In Photographs, Recorded At Home), lieve drone music, oscuri omaggi a maestri come Cage, contributi acustici quasi cantautoriali (230 Divisadero), pop (di)storto e sognante à la Jesus & Mary Chain (The Wades), cascate di feedback in cui annega una melodia di piano (Sailor Winters), noise minaccioso e tetro (Wrong Brothers, plauso al nome).
Pochi nomi noti, a parte Remora e i “nostri” Blessed Child Opera, ma la qualità media è altamente soddisfacente a dimostrazione, se ce ne fosse bisogno, di quanto sia stimolante il sottobosco americano, in cui i dischi, Natale o non Natale, sono sempre operazioni piene di passione.
~ Stefano Pifferi,sentire as coltare
Nos despedimos del invierno
con esta estimable colección de cuentos navideños que el
sello norteamericano Silber ha reunido en este bello "Silber Sounds of
Christmas". 28 tiernas y etéreas canciones de viejos y nuevos amigos
con las que nos hemos sacudido el frío de estas fiestas junto al
fuego de la chimenea.
~ Mikel Herrero, Decadence Online