1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
2. Here We Come A Wassailing
3. Deck the Halls
4. O Come, All Ye Faithful
My house band of merry robots are back with four more rousing holiday tunes. No singing by them this time around but plenty of old school synth-imbued eggnog mirth and electro-infused sugarplum beats to fill you with yuletide joy.
Out of the blue, on October 7, 2012, I received an e-mail from British DJ Mark Whitby from Dandelion Radio asking if I would be interested in putting together some new tracks for his upcoming December show. I was introduced to Mark and his monthly show earlier in the year by friend and fellow independent producer Paul Foster, aka Dementio13. To my surprise, after sampling my Rauthaz EP Mark decided to play a couple of tunes from Rauthaz during his Spring shows. I had planned on previewing future releases to him but hadn’t planned on new Holiday tunes when his e-mail arrived nearly two months ago. Never one to back down from a musical challenge I said yes!, and promptly set aside my current project to focus on 4 new Holiday tracks for 2012. The catch was that I only had a month due to Mark’s deadlines.
What you are listening to are the results of that months work. Well, only three were done in time for Mark, “Wassail” just didn’t come together in time, but he was grateful for the work and those three tracks became a featured Holiday session for his December show. I’m very proud of these four tracks and I thank Mark for the inspiration to produce them. I hope that you also take some enjoyment from them. Like my 2011 Holiday EP, these are definitely not traditional takes on what are traditional Christmas carols. One of my goals with all four was to take a very seasonal song and make it year-round friendly. Please listen to them again in June and let me know if I succeeded.
As always, thank you for your interest in my music. I greatly appreciate all of you who invest a little time to download or listen to my songs.
Here are a few album notes for those who are interested:
God Rest Ye Merry Robotmen
Yes, I’ve left out the comma. Because while there may be confusion about the meaning behind the real title, ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’, there should be no confusion surrounding my house band. They are indeed merry robots!
The original carol, ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ had it’s earliest known publication around 1760, but there are some who think that it is a reaction piece to the music of the 15th century church. We may never know, just as we never know the original meaning behind the first line. What we do know is that Charles Dickens referenced the song in 1843’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, and that it is featured in the second movement of Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s 1927 work, ‘Carol Symphony’. As far as modern takes on this piece, many of you are most familiar with the 1984 version by Mannheim Steamroller. I know for me this version opened my eyes to what a fresh take on a song can actually encompass. The Steamroller version is also one of my favorite Christmas carols of all time.
For my version I went with a decidedly old-school synthpopian sound. Instrumentation includes: G-Force impOSCar2 for fat synth basses and pads. G-Force M-Tron Pro for classic Mellotron and Chamberlin pre-sampler era sounds. NES and Colecovision sounds via Plogue Chipsounds. Epic strings via Logic ES E. And sweet beats from Logic Ultrabeat.
Here We Come A Wassailing
The tune ‘ Here We Come A Wassailing’ was written around 1850 in Merry Old England, but the act of wassailing, more commonly known today as caroling, has it’s roots in the middle age England where peasants would sing and entertain their feudal lords in exchange for gifts such as food, drink, and money. This was seen as less demeaning than outright begging. The act of wassailing also has had it’s less than stellar moments such as when wassailing groups would occasionally ransack the houses of those who did not reciprocate with figgy puddings or wassail beverages. These unfortunate actions are referenced in the 16th century carol, ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’.
I veer further into the analog realm with my version of ‘…Wassailing’. I leaned heavily on my workhorse synth, the impOSCar2, for the majority of sounds heard on this track. There are leads, pads, bells, chimes, basses, and EFX all pulled from this incredibly versatile instrument. The main lead though is done with the G-Force Oddity, a brilliant ARP Odyssey emulator. My M-Tron Pro is used again for some very lo-fi Orchestron work.
Deck the Halls
O mor gynnes mynwes meinwen,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
O mor fwyn yw llywa meillionen,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
O more felus yw’r cusanau,
Gyda serch a mwynion eiriau,
fal lal lal lal lal lal lal lal la:
What? Oh, thats just the original 16th century Welsh carol ‘Nos Galan’ that Deck the Halls was based on. At some point before 1866 Thomas Oliphant took the Welsh melody and gave it the words we know and love today. Mannheim Steamroller also gave this song a masterful new sound in 1984.
My version though goes in a very different direction. Can you say experimental post-dubstep? Very good! This track is anchored by a heavy broken beat created in Logic Ultrabeat and a couple of LFO controlled bass lines from the venerable impOSCar2. Other instrumentation include creepy bells via NI’s Absynth4, Piano and chipsounds from the Logic EXS24 sampler, string pads from a Logic ES E, and some miscellaneous synth lines from a Logic ES2.
O Come, All Ye Faithful
‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ is the 1841 Frederick Oakeley English translation of Adeste Fideles which was penned in Latin by John Francis Wade in 1743. But, as seems to be the case with many Christmas carols, it may have been written much earlier with the melody possible originating in the 13th century.
My version of ‘O Come…’ is the story of the song that couldn’t die. From the outset of the production for this EP, this was a chosen song. It originally was going to employ the services of The Signing Sines (my Robot band) on vocals, but frankly they just never felt the Christmas Spirit and I ended up having to scrap the first version I was working on. Right about the time I was losing hope on this song I found out that G-Force Software had released a new patch set for their M-Tron Pro using the original sounds of the Orchestron which was essentially a ‘cheap’ consumer version of a Mellotron. It has a very lo-fi sound but still found it’s way into many a commercial recording in the 70’s and 80’s, most notably by Kraftwerk. Anyways, I heard the choir patch and was immediately inspired to create what you hear now. So besides the hauntingly beautiful Orchestron choir, the following instrumentation can also be heard within: Logic EFM, Sculpture, and ES E synths, impOSCar synth, Mellotron flute and strings, Chamberlain harp, Orchestron pipe organ, marimba, and flute. The drums are from two sources. The African kit is via the Logic Ultrabeat, and the ‘disco’ beat was created using the Logic EXS24 CR-78 vintage drum machine sample set.