21 December, 2010

Advent Calendar in Song: A Winter's Solstice

OK, I know that over the years New Age has earned a reputation as sonic hippie sludge. One of my friends refers to it as one word to rhyme with "sewage" - "newage". But there was a time before we all got sick of Enya, before there were people who could not resist reinterpreting anything decent on a Fairlight, and albums full of synthetic pan pipes with fake American indian wolf and dreamcatcher motifs on their covers, were just a syncrestic nightmare which would even make Mike Oldfield into an insomniac.

This is a great mellow, but finely crafted well curated album from the Windham Hill label, who used these seasonal samplers as an effective way of shilling their roster of artists. They were originally a folk label that became increasingly associated with New Age until they were bought out in the mid '90's. This album is genuine chill-out, before chill-out became a predictable genre unto itself of overproduced stillness and low beats per minute. It is nicely low key for a season of long nights huddling for warmth.

Now I'm going to do the uncharacteristic thing, and shut up, I'll let a few of the tracks that I've linked to speak for themselves, but there's not a dud on the whole album.

Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring - David Qualey

William Ackerman and Joan Jeanrenaud - New England Morning

Liz Story -- Greensleeves:

A Winter's Solstice Vol. I (1985)

01 Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring - David Qualey
02 Engravings II - Ira Stein & Russel Walder
03 New England Morning - William Ackerman
04 High Plains (Christmas On The High-Line) - Philip Aaberg
05 Nollaig - Billy Oskay & Micheal O Domhnaill
06 Greensleeves - Liz Story
07 Bach Bourée (From The French Suite) - Darol Anger & Mike Marshall
08 Northumbrian Lullabye - Malcolm Dalglish
09 Petite Aubade - Shadowfax
10 A Tale Of Two Cities - Mark Isham

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