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Julian Koster

The Singing Saw at Christmastime

(Merge; US: 7 Oct 2008; UK: Available as import)

Hearing a saw sing is an eerie experience. It’s beautiful, but in the way that ghostly things are (and vice versa). Their winter wind voices create an odd atmosphere for a Christmas Eve, almost the tone of a heartwarming film fading to its credits, but with the audio tape slightly warped. If the voices hinted at an actual ghost to come, it wouldn’t be Jacob Marley, but someone far more palatable, maybe a strong-legged Tiny Tim. So it might not be the ideal music to play while you and your hot chocolate settle down next to the fireplace.


On the other hand, it might be. Despite its ideally snowy trappings, Christmas should be a season of new-ness, and it’s likely you can add some originality to your season by inviting the saws to your festivities. Their finest interpretation on this disc helps. I’ve always heard “O’ Holy Night” as a beautiful piece, but at a distance, seeing a town on a cold, clear night from a hillside, but alone, in a moment for awed meditation. The saws re-envision the song as a moment of celebration. The saws, you see, aren’t a novelty act, but genuine artists.

Rating:

Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


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