ARISE & GO
May I take a quick moment to introduce my new Yuletide album?
I think its pretty obvious that my Christmas sensibilities are pretty evenly split between - on one hand - solemn contemplation of the darkest and coldest time of the year - and on the other - a desire to dance like crazy to just to keep the blood up. I love the traditions of winter carnival that take place around this time: going door to door singing carols has become a much more wholesome and sedate (and rare) spectacle than it was in days gone by; there was a time when it used to be a lot more raucous and frenzied, more like Halloween trick or treating or the parading for Mardi Gras. I hope I captured a little of that desperate edge to the revelry, and to be sure, I still choke up just a little singing that line in the ‘Old Apple Tree Wassail’ the one that mentions that ‘down there in the muddy lane there sits an old grey fox, a-starving and a-shivering and a-licking his own chops.’ If you’ve ever kept chickens or ducks it seems like it might be kind of hard to feel sympathetic to that cruel killer the fox, and yet winter time should make us all pretty aware of what it’s like to go without.
My love of an older music that underlies our typical mainstream music culture also factors into my love of Christmas music making, this is the time of year that our ears get tuned to an older tonality, the modal approach of the medieval roots music that you hear in traditional carols; this is a wilder, darker ocean that we swim in during this time of year - and that's a sound that I love highlighting in the old timey fiddle tunes I’m accustomed to playing from the British Isles and backwoods America. I really enjoyed doing a whole set of tunes from medieval Spain: the Cantigas of Santa Maria date back to the mid 1200’s and although they weren’t technically Christmas carols, they celebrate the many mysteries and marvels associated with the Virgin Mary so I felt they fit the bill quite well. Similarly, the feel and flavor of Haneros Halelu I think captures this combination of mournful yearning and joyous exultation - I hope my Jewish friends don't think I’m pandering to them in the way greeting card companies tend to this time of year - I’ve loved this particular tune for decades now, even before I was aware it was a Hanukkah blessing.
In my desire to explore what I consider 'cold' textures I've tried to draw on a sound that maybe some would typify as 'cyberpunk medieval', I want this music to sound antique and even ancient but also to speak to the future, glittering and distant across the winter landscape.