Christmas Decorations - Model 91
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Christmas Decorations
Model 91

This is such an odd little release that I'm not sure where to start. Mixing dry bass sounds with guitars drenched in reverb and lots of lo-fi electronics and effects, this spare release sounds like it could have easily arrived back in the early 80's, when the post-punk angle was really starting to take off. Sounding somewhat akin to a very stripped-down version of early New Order, Christmas Decorations have created a release that doesn't sound quite like anything else out there.

The first half of the disc works quite well, moving through miniature spooky landscape after miniature spooky landscape. Because of the equipment used and the production technique, they evoke stark, desolate places, hazy worlds full of fuzzy edges inhabited only by spectres. Opening with "Cricket Broom," the disc invites you into its rickety world of subtle drum programming and guitars that ring off into some far-off place. Quiet electronics ping and pulse and the bassline walks a tightrope deciding what part of the song it wants to play with. "Brittle Stem" follows up with a slight bit more urgency, and it's easily one of the nicer tracks on the album. The guitar and bass play off one another nicely while the barely-there drum programming and minimal electronics provide a twinkling, mesmerizing backdrop.

The first half of the album continues on this route, encorporating these different elements into more lonely soundscapes, but it's right around the middle of the disc that things take a slight direction change. On the only one-minute long "Orange Suit," the group brings filtered, off-key vocals into the mix, and while it's humorous and novel on the short track, it wears out its welcome rather quickly. It's nice to see that the group has a sense of humor, as the jaunty "A Random Hill," proves, but "Build A House" never really sinks in, instead keeping the listener at an arms length with another minor-key arrangement, buzzing electronics, and multi-tracked monotone vocals.

As mentioned before, it's a strange little release that has influences not only in the aforementioned post-punk, but ambient electronic and even early cinematic scores by the likes of Ennio Morricone as well. Because of it's rather austere presentation and general cold feel, it will most likely interest the more adventurous fans of the Kranky sound.

rating: 610
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00