Artist: Ian Haygreen
Release Date: 2014 Dec 08
License: CC BY-ND
Label:Self-Release / BandCamp
[Ed. Note: Ian has removed this release from the public portion of his BandCamp site. Not certain if the release may be available in his subscription page.]
Ian Haygreen’s Noel is the second of two holiday themed releases from the ambient musician from Ridgewell, UK. As I said in my review of Dark Yule, we would talk about this release separately as there is little relationship between the two of them. What? Did you think I was going to wait a few days before writing about this one? Nah, best to do them both on the same day…
Ian Haygreen’s Noel
To quote Ian regarding this release:
A selection of lesser known (in the UK at least) and a few well-known carols from various centuries generally mucked around with.
And, indeed, in the sixteen tracks on this release, you will find some of the traditional, better known pieces like: “A Maiden Most Gentle” (aka Away In A Manger), “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”, “Over The River and Through The Wood” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. And there are quite a few lesser known pieces like “Arre Borriquito”, “Pat-a-Pan” and “Vol van pracht”.
On this release Ian has stuck with more traditional length versions of many of the songs. Instead of the eight to ten minute long pieces on Dark Yule, these are typically in the two to four minute range (although a few are in the five to six minute range).
As for the comment “…generally mucked around with.” Yes, these are generally not your typical arrangements. In some cases they might start out sounding like traditional (although maybe slightly cheesy) arrangements, but when you hear a piece like “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” in a deep bass, with electronic chimes, and church bells it’s kind of like hearing Isao Tomita interpret this song on ancient Moog synthesizers And, this mood is carried on to “Over the River and Through the Wood”.
Other songs have settings that are just slightly off-center from a traditional setting. For example, “O Come, O Come Emanuel” sounds like it is set on an organ with a very thin and distorted reed sound, while ” Mary Had a Baby (Oh Lord)” features a beautiful choral recording set against a minimal and dark organ recording.
Not all of the tracks on this release are challenging or extreme interpretations of the original works. For example, “Pat-a-Pan” is a nice light work, with a spartan rhythm that is quite easily listenable. As is “The Coventry Carol”.
This is another recording that isn’t likely to be the hit tunes that you are going to have on as background music at your office holiday party. However, it does make a nice alternative to the standard jazz and pop tunes of the season, and is more easily mixed into a playlist as a way shaking things up a bit without being too overbearing.
Two releases, neither of them taking the standard approach to holiday music. This is probably the more accessible of the two. It will probably go over well with friends or family that are not as inclined to traditional music. However it is still not the soundtrack for your office holiday party.
I love some of the pieces on this release. I’m especially enthralled with the setting of “Mary Had a Baby (Oh Lord)” which is an African piece I had never heard before. However, some of these pieces will really push the listener in unusual ways, like “Vol van pracht”.