Christmas songs are as big a part of the season as crowded shopping malls and spiked eggnog, but there are only so many times you can hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” without wanting to wretch just a little. Here are some suggestions for compiling a Yuletide playlist that perhaps isn’t quite so musty. Much of the music can be purchased or ordered locally at Guestroom Records, Size Records and the like.
Record Store Day (RSD) has become an audiophile’s Christmas since its inception in 2008, celebrating independently owned record stores with exclusive titles and limited-edition releases from everyone from The Beatles to Arcade Fire.
Nearly six years ago, an Oklahoma City duo by the name of Tympanic
Frenzy sent my eardrums into just that with a terrific, if oddly
punctuated electronica album in Cerebral Funktion .. in Process …
Henry McMinn, one-half of that twosome, is now back as Tele Mori, and backed by a full band. Not only does that added help grant depth and a richer sound to his programmed melodies, but the resulting disc, Sounds from a Broken Music Box, is more accomplished.
Whereas a good chunk of Funktion’s tracks sported no words, Tele Mori’s debut is vocal-driven, with one exception: “Novembers Ending,” a number that gradually builds to an explosion of beauty.
While not entirely losing the industrial leanings of his former act, McMinn’s work here is better prepared for mass-audience consumption. A good point of comparison is post-Play Moby, where rock met electronics and turned out to like each other after all, or perhaps Team Sleep, the more melodic side project of Deftones’ Chino Moreno.
Sway to the woozy closer “Broken and Free.” Live vicariously through Taylor Fallis’ relentless drumming on “Looking Through Glass Blocks.” Relax with “Listening While I Sleep,” the closet thing this Box has to a ballad. Whatever you do, just listen. —Rod Lott