I had a track from Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Songs for Christmas’ box set all lined up for the 2012 calendar until I was looking through a list of new releases last week and suddenly discovered the man had just released a second volume of Christmas songs titled ‘Silver and Gold, Volumes 6 - 10’.
My first reaction was that I could see what I’d be doing for most of next November, but then I found myself alone in a tedious hotel with a laptop, the NPR music website's ‘First Listen’ option and a good three hours or so to kill and – Bingo! – by the following morning I’d heard 50 odd songs and the whole five albums in one sitting.
My initial reaction would be, don’t do what I did; listening to the thing in one hit requires a lot of patience and a fair bit of grim determination. The second half of the whole two boxed set, 10 album, 100 song project differs from the first five volumes in that a lot of ‘Silver & Gold’ isn’t particularly accessible. There are a myriad of quirky re-imaginings of well-known festive songs amongst the self-penned stuff as you’d expect, but many employ odd time-signatures, confusing beats, drum machine mayhem and weird noises.
Some are – on first listen anyway – frankly, pretty annoying as they go on too long. It’s all done with love and not a little charm, of course but it seems much darker and brooding than its enlightened predecessor. However, there is much here to enjoy too and I’d certainly urge you to listen to it even if only to show what someone can do with Christmas music if they’re so inclined.
I’ve chosen this track as much for the haunting and disturbing video as the equally troubling song.