Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Instrumentals

The other day somebody asked me if I had any Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I might have them on a NOW collection or two that I picked up the first year I was looking for Christmas music that wasn't commonly heard on the radio, but I have to say I never sought out their music. They are not only played on the radio and in the malls and stores quite frequently, but they have become THE standard for instrumental music around this time of year. Not to put down their work...what they do is awesome...but just don't expect to find any of their music posted here anytime soon or later.

Instrumental music, for me anyway, is really a huge hit or miss. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is pretty consistent in the material they produce, but when I am shopping for Christmas records and CDs I've never heard of before, I am much less likely to make a blind purchase on instrumental music because a lot of it just is bland and uninspiring. And they keep rehashing the same Christmas standards over and over and over again. So I have to admit my collection of unique and obscure Christmas instrumental music isn't really strong, but I'd like to share a few tracks I have.

I feel these tracks show that you don't have to sound like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or just use piano to create holiday instrumental music. They likely won't be taking any thunder away from the stalwart standards of instrumental Christmas music any time soon, but at least on this blog I can share them and let you see for yourselves there is creative and innovative Christmas instrumental music being created.

First up is Durutti Column. Though they have been together since 1978, I just discovered them this year through their obscure Christmas instrumental work. Their tracks I am sharing, along with a couple others I will be sharing today, come from the "Chantons Noël. Ghosts of Christmas Past." compilation, originally released in 1981 and reissued on CD this year. Durutti Column is still going strong, with new releases out and tracks on their My Space page if you'd like to seek out more information on them.

Durutti Column-One Christmas For Your Thoughts

Durutti Column-Snowflakes

From the same compilation I also have Michael Nyman. Michael is still going strong and is releasing music to this day.

Michael Nyman-Cream or Christmas

I'd now like to share with you an experimental track from Olivia Tremor Control. This is a decidedly more experimental take from their 2000 collection, Singles and Beyond.

Olivia Tremor Control-Christmas With William S

Next up is Photophob. Their work is so far from Trans-Siberian Orchestra I didn't just cross the globe to find it, I feel as if I got in a space ship and landed on another planet to find it. This track comes from their 2004 release Within. It's not a Christmas album, but this is their Christmas track.

Photophob-A Robot For Christmas

Finally, I'd like to share a track with you from Frank Zappa. This is his sole Christmas track I could find, and it makes me wish he had compiled a whole album of Christmas originals, instrumental mixed with vocal tracks. Maybe a cover version or three just to see what he'd do with some of the standards. Sadly, that will never happen obviously, unless unreleased masters of such an album are uncovered. But we have this song that comes from his last album, Civilization Phaze III.

Frank Zappa-Xmas Values

I have part 5 of my SPUD 102 segments to share as well...enjoy and thanks again for reading and listening!

SPUD 102 12-14-2007

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