Last week, we had an hour and 20 minutes of completely original, solo piano music. This week, I bring you nearly an hour of Christmas music that is a solid mix of traditional and original work, all done purely through a synthesizer.
Christmas Presence has a very definite New Age, Mannheim Steamroller feel to it. Except that I loathe New Age music; and Mannheim Steamroller, for some reason I’ve never been able to articulate, irritates me a great deal. Neil Dawson’s work here, though, I consider quite wonderful.
To be sure, it has a certain amount of that schmaltzy, cheap synth sound. But somehow I never mind it when I’m listening through. It never pulls me out of what I’m doing, makes me roll my eyes, none of that.
And he put a lot of work into it:
This is my second Christmas album, recorded in my home studio using a Yamaha Motif 6 keyboard for all voices including percussion. It took me nearly an entire year to complete this mix of traditional, contemporary and original arrangements and compositions. I hope you enjoy them!
It is, overall, entirely lovely and very much in the spirit of the season. Yes, schmaltz and all. If this doesn’t put you in the holiday mood, I’m not sure anything will.
And, really, I say “schmaltz”, but there’s a track titled “God Rest Ye Merry Exorcists”. Which is pretty much what you’d expect from that name, yet somehow also has moments that make me think of 1980s Hong Kong movie soundtracks (and I mean that in a good way).
But if you want a feel for what the album has to offer, condensed into one track, I suggest you give Dawson’s rendition of the “Carol of the Bells” a listen. If you like that, you’ll like the whole thing.
Christmas Presence by Neil Dawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.