T’is the season to be jolly, as many plastic po-faced adverts have made me very much aware. But I’m not in the Christmas spirit. Working as I do in retail (that is, stacking shelves and making them look pretty so that you ungrateful sods can have as many different kinds of Ryvita as you could possibly desire) I get to see the ugly commercialist face of Christmas at its very worst. Quibbles over five pence difference on a receipt, full blown shouting matches between strangers over minor Christmas dinner extras, screaming kids; you name it and I’ve probably had to endure more of it than any rational human could ever ask. There’s also the fact that we all become corporate whores and produce millions of tons of CO2 to light our stupid little trees (my tree is carbon-friendly and has no lights). Not to mention it is the very deepest darkest winter and gets dark about fifteen minutes after it gets light meaning I often miss the sunlight completely if I’m working or in uni. If it’s a toss-up between this and those long languid summer evenings where the booze flows quietly and inexorably like you’re bathing in it and the sun never seems to set. Sunglasses and tees and long evenings sitting in the sunshine beat ice-bitten midday-light grocery runs in any universe. But some people like it, they tend to be extremely vocal and organise things I have no choice but to go to so the hell with it, here I am going to introduce you to my own personal Christmas misery EP for your listening displeasure. I’ve picked a coupla miserable sounds to really drag your spirits down if you’re sitting around the house on the 25th having inserted into your face in the last four hours more food than it would at any other time be socially acceptable to metabolise in a week, or that new years day hangover that feels like somebody with hobnail boots dancing on your shallow grave (well, maybe for you, I’m a drunk and thus am immune). In the same style as our Summer Sounds Samplers I’ll give you a rundown of the sounds in my trademark barely-legible manner and then the playlist at the end. As with before, I wasn’t significantly married to the idea to create actual copies (corporeal or otherwise) to distribute but feel free to make your own cd. If there is interest here, the next round of creations might be put into a playlist on YouTube so you can hear it. We’ll see, leave us a comment or send us an email if you’d like to see that happen.
[On a more serious note, if you’re looking to get a proper measure of winter with its long dark nights and cold wastelands, you won’t do better than the new Another Quiet Day EP from the Eternal Twilight, I might do a full write-up of that, but currently it comes with my highest recommendations. It might even sneak into my end of year list. It’s available here on a name-your-price basis, so if you like the stream, give ‘em some of your money before you spend it all on fucking toys.]
[Speaking of end-of-year lists, I will be putting out a list of my personal selections from the year. It won’t be a ‘top ten’ or whatever because those tend to be so personal-taste-based that they cease to be relevant in any way except as a record (and seeing as I haven’t heard every record from this year, natch, I can’t say which was ‘best’, can I?). So instead, I’ll just be looking back at releases from the year that I think have been interesting or important enough and may have slipped by a few of you guys. Sound good? Better than having a little ego-wank into the internet at least.]
Right, enough prevarication. Away we go with half an hour of holiday season misery.
A good playlist always starts with a bang. You need to grab attention, and what better way to cry for attention than by cutting yourself? That’s a question Nattramn of my personal favourite black metal band Silencer probably couldn’t answer. I said all I needed to say about that release in my column, so if you’d be so kind, do check it out. On this track in particular, well Sterile Nails and Thunderbowels is a pretty excellent name for a track, it has a killer video [YouTube link] and features that love-it-or-hate-it-mostly-hate-it vocal retch from Nattramn. Leap. Leap. Leap... from... life!
Okay, you should be feeling pretty down by now, so it’s time to cool it off with two slow and empty tracks, filled with winter remorse. There is the superb Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy about whom I have also written a full length. I See a Darkness, from the album of same name, is exactly the kind of ghostly haunting that goes on in rooms that are just that little bit too cold. Billy has no fire and no energy. The track does not begin or end in any true sense, simply meanders, cutting through spirit and pace and takes you right to the darkest and most hopeless of places.
Next up are a band that have been in way too many film trailers for me to consider admitting that I actually used to really like them (I liked them before they were cool). A Perfect Circle, second of the three ego-vehicles Tool’s Maynard James Keenan has been a part of, with their superbly downer cover of Lennon’s classic Imagine. You might not like A Perfect Circle, and I’d probably stand by most criticisms, but you have to admit that eMOTIVe is one of the best covers-albums that’s been released for a long time, and this was the centrepiece of it (well, Fiddle and the Drum was the clear stand-out but this fits better in this playlist). The twisting of Lennon’s classic into such densely depressing places has earned this track a place on the list.
To finish (playlist rule #1: start with a lightning strike, and end with the thunderclap) is just the kind of towering Jesus-based rage that should be welcomed at Christmas, but I doubt this will. From the vaults of my all-time favourite bands Ramesses. The band that formed from the ashes of the big Electric Wizard schism, and just like Om from Sleep, came out meaner and sharper and even more excellent than their predecessors (who in my opinion ceased to move after the schism). The closer of my playlist is the closer from their more-or-less debut EP We Will Lead You to Glorious times, check out the album artwork! Think of some brutal druid doom that rumbles and crackles and fades.
Hope you liked the emotions I tried to conjure up in this playlist. If you took the time out to put it together on YouTube or something, drop us a mail or a comment and we will love you unconditionally. Remember, the solstice is the true holiday, the moment when darkness becomes light and the turn begins is a far more important and positive and ominous time than remembering Christ. Enjoy your festive celebrations however busy or quiet, sober or drunken, decadent or spartan, personable or alone. Please do remember, you have everything you need and most of what you want; it’s easy to take for granted the ability to walk in the street without being attacked, or the ability to read. There are some people who can’t take these things for granted. Do not remember them during the festives, do something for them. The simple question is, if roles were reversed and you were unable to read because of poor education and they lived in a fabulously rich stable democracy and gave each other stupid Xbox games, would you want people to make a little gesture to help you live a fuller life?
And next week, lists!
Happiness is out of business. EP compiled by Steven for the purposes of making you feel a little less festive.
Sterile Nails and Thunderbowels – SilencerI See a Darkness – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
Imagine – A Perfect Circle
Black Domina – Ramesses
Written under duress by Steven.