Zaft 022   Various Artists   Let It Snow!

Tracklist CDR 1 (Eventide):

  1. Cruelty Campaign: Xmas 2000
  2. Suspicion Breeds Confidence: Ode an Herbstkonsivierte Eichen
  3. Manherringbone: Feliz Navidad
  4. Free Death: I Wanna f*** an Elf part I
  5. ///: Hail
  6. Big Tex: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  7. Verloc: One Special Gift
  8. Lefthandeddecision: Santa Goes AWOL
  9. .V.L.A.D. the Impaling Machine: Joy to the World
  10. Big Tex: Carol of the Bells (distorted version of the holiday season version)
  11. Baboon Torture Division: Santa Satan
  12. Free Death: I Wanna f*** an Elf part II
  13. Azoikum: Carol Medly
  14. Goose: Veni, Veni, Emanuel

Tracklist CDR 2 (Daybreak):

  1. Motortorso: Seasons Beatings
  2. R4: Silent Night
  3. Fenetik: White Noise Christmas
  4. NMAXMS: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  5. Pedestrian Deposit: Rudloph the Rednoise Reindeer (christmas medly)
  6. Stolen Light: All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth
  7. .V.L.A.D. the Impaling Machine: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  8. Conure: Ralphie
  9. DJ Saint Nick: Mark Wilson is the Santa Claus of Noise
  10. Foboff: Silent Might
  11. Free Death: Santa the Great Deceiver

I think that it's official. I will do a compilation once a year for Christmas. Next year I'm starting work on it in September or my wife will kill me. This is the most CDs that I have burned at one time, but it was certainly worth it. This is a great compilation and I am proud to have put it out. It comes packaged in a dark blue canvas bag that has been hand stamped with white snowflakes. The paper for the artwork was beautiful as well. A few tracks have fun stories behind them: NMAXMS waited an entire year to get on this compilation. He had submitted this track for last year's Merry Christmas, but the post office delivered it late, after I had left town. I kept it and put it on this comp. He was happy to have it released finally anfter I tracked him down. The other fun fact is that this is Foboff's first release. I had never met her, but she asked Phil of Troniks (aka lefthandeddecision) who she should submit a track to for a compilation and he suggested this one. Judging by this track, I am very interested to see what happens after she gets a few releases under her belt. And of course, I don't think that any Zaftig Research holiday compilation would be complete without a visit from V.L.A.D. the Impaling Machine. Once again, he has spread his own special brand of holiday cheer among us all. I don't think that there is a bad track on this compilation. The one that wins this year's award for completely blowing me away would be Cruelty Campaign. I screwed up the name of their track (what they had written on the CD was different from what they had on the case and when it came time to work on the inserts, the CD is what I had in front of me....) This was the most hauntingly beautiful track that I had heard in a while.

From the Rectrix catalog:

A collection of noise, ambient, and experimental revolving around everyone's favorite holiday. R4, Suspicion Breeds Confidence, Stolen Light, Azoikum, Lefthandeddecision, Goose, Cruelty Campaign, are some of the artists on this very eclectic compilation. In a festive blue bag.

Here's what Nicolas at Recycle Your Ears had to say:

And now, Santa goes noise! "Let it snow!" is a 2 CDRs sampler dedicated to Christmas featuring mostly bands from the North American turbulent noise offspring. This times, these bands have left their dark topics and black outfits at the door, we're here to revisit Christmas medly, winter tales and spread the whole thing with private joke. And, while doing that, why not present some good, ear blasting noise? The sampler is divided in two CDRs. One is calm and not as distorted as the other, starting with the very poetic atmosphere from Cruelty Campaign and the field recordings of Suspicion Breeds Confidence. What we get then is a very slow down medly with Big Tex, bleak soundscapes with Verloc (a side project of Ovum), distorted to the core pop music with Lefthandeddecision. Video-game music from Hell with Baboon Torture Divison, and others really good track by Free Death (who really wants to do something with an elf), Azoikum or Goose. The "second" CDR is more noisy and aggressive. It starts with the hilarious track by Motortorso (something like a Christmas music box thrown on the wall), and a strange echoed track by R. On this CDR, I noticed too the tracks by Pedestrian Deposit, who make a nice use of musical samples in the middle of a very noisy track, the stange and very repetitive track by Conure, the long power electronics assault by Foboff (looking for female power electronics? Here it is!), or the very funny "Mark Wilson is the Santa Claus of noise" by DJ Saint Nick (Mark Wilson is a member of Imperial Floral Assault Unit but I have no idea who DJ Saint Nick is). This sampler is mandatory for people into new american noise for two reason: one, because it's obviously the funniest release I've come accross in a long time and, two, because it contain good tracks. And did I say it comes packaged in a kind of oversized wool blue bag with white snow flakes? I know, it's a big too late to wish this compilation for Christmas, but you've been warned! Santa is not who it seems.

Here's a review from Re:mote Induction:

Let It Snow is the annual Christmas compilation from Zaftig Research for the year 2000 (2001's Peace On Earth, Goodwill To All Men having been just released at the time of writing). Spread across two CD-Rs which are titled Eventide (sleeve =black with silver snow flakes; disc black with large snow flake) and Daybreak (sleeve = transparent with silver snow flakes; disc white with black snow flake). The two discs also come in a nice snow flake decorated stocking, a particularly cool touch! Some of the best tracks on Eventide are supplied by Cruelty Campaign, Manherringbone and Free Death, while on Daybreak they are from Fenetik, NMAXMS and Stolen Light - though there are plenty of other fun pieces as well.

Eventide starts with Cruelty Campaign's Xmas 2000 - creaking spirals, puttering within the low scrapes while hints of melody are played. Low drone rises up within this established sound, slow soar mixing it up with the stray scatter, into which a voice explains that it is Christmas eve and sets the scene for the day and recording (which is a nice touch really). The recording move more towards the drone side, mixing it with the sound of the mentioned 7 year old opening presents along with the rest of the family. Melody flits a carol through the subtle grinding of the drone rotation. Suspicion Breeds Confidence follow with Ode An Herbstkonservierte Eichen, a chatter of voices wells in a muddled fashion, the slow extraction hinting at distorted Christmas records. Piano wells up in a fragile form, threatening to disintegrate in a diffused manner, backed by a chatter. Falling into a burbling sequence of sound, odd detritus breaking through the surface and submerging once more - disintegration achieved.

Manherringbone continues with low swirls that open up Feliz Navidad, a vibrant bass string cutting a line through that surf. Sighing strokes of sound, leading to a more straining noise form that dips in wild plunges in the background of this structure. Working in subdued tones, background dips and flits, then welling up in a great archaic organ grind of bass heavy tune and scraping accompaniment. Sirens call in extended cries, echoing in their layers. The first part of Free Death's I Wanna Fuck An Elf features layered drones, set up from the echoing vibrations of strings, fluctuant tones working through it along with hints of subdued, tapping percussion. Sustaining as a drawn out sound.

||| offer Hail, where micro sounds putter away, the frequency rising to allow a low hum to mix in below the rounded tones. Slowly becoming a more noise based formation, but still with a reduced feel to it, agitated though it is. As it continues the background bass forms gentle pulses, complimenting the micro chatter and scrape. Big Tex suggests that you Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas with a string crashing in a distorted vibe, with slowed voice singing slurring the suggestion that you "have yourself a merry little Christmas". A sentiment that in this context feels somewhat disturbing, bristling with restraint as it does. This is a dark piece, just the sheer gravity of the dankness the slowing of the sound conjures.

Verloc bring us One Special Gift, bass waves looping in the background, hints of melodic crests in the wash. Setting up a slow drifting bass form, with whispered voices carrying within it's flow. Sleepy and easy going as it repeats it's motions. lefthandeddecision report with Santa Goes Awol where this time waves offer a surf that flits into a noise storm, granular static, then the squeal of a Christmas tune played on guitar is caught up in the mass waves. Vocals and beats also start up, torn to shreds and yet with an odd coherence. As it continues it is clear there are several tracks playing at once, all Christmas themed of course - choppy, dense and fractured - and enough to put a smile on my face.

V.L.A.D. The Impaling Machine appears on this disc with Joy To The World, which is in a similar chopping but smoother manner a rhythm noise piece pounding and chaotic, with snarling vocal treatments. "merry Christmas" seems to be a vocal loop within the mass, barely discernible in the growling mess. Back again it's Big Tex and his commentary on the true meaning of Christmas with Carol Of The Bells (Distorted Version Of The Holiday Season Version), with slight strained melody, both as distorted as the commentary describes Christmas. What sounds like distorted bells play out a noisy chromatic rhythm, which gives way to choppy electronic rhythms backed by a crisp techno snare and noise streak.

Santa Satan by Baboon Torture Division starts with a broken down toy box rendition of Rudolf the red nosed reindeer. Thickening and slowing, with game gear imitations of traditional sounds and de/accelerated wishes of "merry Christmas". Then just for luck distorted animal sounds, as you do. Chatter of French and then a distorted growl. Free Death's I Wanna Fuck An Elf Part 2 crackles and skips, mixing with the rise of a low droning melody and a repeating note, texturally detailed. A tight mechanic whir stream adds, and falters, the whole building infectious detail slowly. filtering and shifting through streams of emphasis, one point the skips then the flow of drone.

Azoikum continue the festive spirit with Carol Medley where the sound of carols are washed out, echoing from a distant and large space, the hiss of background sound and recording distortion adding to the resultant sound. goose follow that with Veni, Veni, Emanuel, comprised of low scraping swirls mixed with the sound of a woman's voice, from the sound of it speaking in Latin.

Moving to Daybreak we begin with Motortorso's Seasons Beatings, plinking jolliness plays, then grabbed hold of and beaten soundly, crashing and lashing noise in a broken battering form. Extracting rubble, squeals and distortion. Next is R4's Silent Night, filled with crowd sounds layering in a distorted mass, flowing into a noise stream. Slow rotations and echoes describing the form of the whole. Extracting in this manner as a textural expression of a spatial environment. White Noise Christmas is by Fenetik and is comprised of vinyl crackles as old records play, something traditional that slows to a halt. Leaving a looping sound, rough whirring, mechanics creeping in and triggering a mechanised toy voice shouting "merry Christmas" and in the process starting up a scratch loop form. Pile drivers rise and chug happily to accompany this glitching vocal snatch. Intensifying in a static form, white noise Christmas indeed, as the hiss insinuates increasingly.

NMAXMS cover God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, where a recorder plays the melody and as it progresses there is the introduction of manipulation of the parts that have gone past. Electronic sequences and catches play, skipping bluntness, while the clean melody continues to play through the affects. Through the now dominant swirl of noise and sparks there is a voice track, only the word "something strange" really filtering through to the listener. With time the recorder melody starts to drift back into the mix, played badly at points, but with the distractions all around its hardly surprising - though by this stage I swear it sounds more like it is flitting between "comfort and joy" and "merry gentlemen"! The piece continues to work its way through distortions and evocations, drawing out in a lengthy manner. With a version of Rudolph The Rednoise Reindeer (Christmas medley) we continue with Pedestrian Deposit - an orchestral rise comes up and catches, looping and then backed by the next step of the sequence. Noise grinds up in a lashing manner, mixing and dipping behind the initial passage. Melodic folk ditty mixes in a tight loop of voice within the new passage of grind wash, in a similar manner the next syllable mixes in with another extract of voice backing it, then a flit to the original piece. "have yourself a merry little Christmas" versus "rapapum" versus "squealyowlriptear". The process continues, cut and pastes mixing with a noise paradigm, setting up uneasy equilibriums.

Stolen Light - All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth: so there is this bloke, he walks into the dentist office and says "do you mind if I record the operation", "no problems" says they, so here we are sitting listening to the pulse of gas, the whir of drill, the staff talking about what is going to be done. All built up to an exacerbated pulsing exaggeration, cloying claustrophobic depth. And all I wanted for Christmas was my front two teeth...

V.L.A.D. The Impaling Machine is back with Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, starting with a vocal loop "santa and his help" repeating, lashing beats in jagged accompaniment while VLAD growls the words to "hark". Conure are next with Ralphie, which loops a mix of vocal samples, some shouting at someone, kicking them, and the other person's outcry, backed by little cymbal flares. The additional flares, and patter of beating becoming more pronounced and accentuated as the piece continues. Working with the base sounds for the duration, looping and extracting various details, edged and piercing, droning and roughened rhythms. DJ Saint Nick comes along to tell us that Mark Wilson Is The Santa Claus Of Noise. A computerised voice statement, that leads to a shrill electronic rendition of "dashing through the snow" or some such. Over ridden to give a distortion, rounded electronic grating.

Foboff follows R4's Silent Night, with Silent Might. Where garbled noise streams well up with high pitched sounds around the edges, occasional clarifications of sound work through the mass, but for the most part it is a vibrating distorted whole. Static rhythms play a catching beat, Velcro resilience in its passage, chopping with the bass line assembly. Formation allows for a greater sense of some fucked up source material carrying through beneath. Clarifying after some time to a repeating bass pulse and growled vocals. Free Death finish this disc with their third track - Santa The Great Deceiver. A funky rhythm builds, with a nasty little edge at work, bass guitar and drums play quite easily, operatic wail a warbling cry. Vocals add in a gruff manner, describing santa's inability to solve all problems and how this makes him the "great deceiver". Bad man!