Reading the notes by Binaural Space on the inspiration for this release will inspire you to listen to this alone... While my fathers side of the family immigrated a century ago from the Czech Republic, I imagine distant relatives in that church too enjoying the musical growth of an aspiring young musician.. kudos!
When listening to this album, I am letting my imagination wander across an eerie snow-covered landscape; i see a small village in the distance, glowing with red, gold and green, sign of a long lost hope, yearning for a warm ray of sun on my pale skin. Merry Christmas!
Favorite track: Lully Lulla.
When I was 11, my parents took me to a small Czech village church. It happened on a nice Sunday about a year and a half before the event later called the Velvet Revolution. So our expedition was secret and dangerous, I was told. Put like this I loved it, of course.
There were almost no people in the church as it was not exactly a supported activity by the communist establishment. Just six or seven old people… and a choirmaster. Well, an organist anyway.
He was in his late fifties, which made him the youngest member of the little community before the three of us entered. After the mass concluded, we talked. He was a semi-professional composer and I was an aspiring one. So we were both experts on the problematics of true art, artistic integrity and its role in shallow showbyz world in middle-sized East European villages, as you can imagine. He allowed me to play the pipe organ.
I didn’t dare trying the pedals – I had been trained since being five, but only as a pianist – but the sound was magnificent anyway. Of course I gradually pulled all the registers and fell in love with the huge sound surrounding me. As well as with the experience itself, the natural delay (latency) of the mechanical instrument and the reverb the nave provided.
The guy couldn’t ignore my zest. He handed me sheet music with two songs. The first one was Our Father, “played at every mass”. He wrote some complicated jazz chords with a pencil over the otherwise simple harmony and told me to learn it over the week.
Next Sunday he let me play the two songs. During the mass. I was thrilled but also extremely nervous and scared and he didn’t like the fact that I chose to play just the simple harmony from the notes, not knowing most of his chord symbols, but otherwise he was satisfied. He presented me with a hymn book afterwards, introduced me to the priest and left saying “See you next week.”
I arrived ahead of time the third Sunday. He didn’t. Arrive. At all. Similarly to the fairy tale boatman, I became the “regenschori” overnight. Or overmass, rather. I would be playing during service, weddings, christenings and funerals... for the next 24 years.
Since my second year I had been giving Christmas concerts. Every December 26th. And because it was already after the revolution then, times changed and I started enjoying full house.
On one hand I loved the concerts. On the other hand they were stressful. Christmas had been always my favorite holiday. But I would be practicing, usually alone, other times with kids with whom I formed a little choir, day in, day out, until the evening of the 25th December. So my peace of mind always started in the afternoon of the 26th, during and after the concert.
I stopped playing in that church a couple of years ago, when our first baby was born and we moved abroad for several years. I still miss the atmosphere and, why not admit it, the funny local fame. The parishioners used to bring me eggs sometimes, or other products from their little farms, to show their appreciation. Many of them don’t live anymore but I still remember them – their names, faces and voices – and those beautiful times.
This album is an attempt to bring it back. Not the concerts – the sensation. Prettified memories of childhood and coming of age, I guess. Slow times spent with my family. With all of my people, including both my grandparents, around. Plus friends from the city (and even some of my teachers who would come see us at the concerts). Few of them even recorded the events or shot them on camcorders, and we released DIY CDs, too, which all came in handy when working on this LP.
Music on this album consists mainly of themes from well-known carols, played slowly, serenely and smudgily, plus other soothing melodies, harmonies, instruments, sounds and effects helping to build the atmosphere. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles but rather all the jingle bells (including those made into drones) and choirs.
I tried traveling in time, to the past, by making this album, and I’m very happy with the result: it really brings me back to the overall mood of my childhood during the light-hearted Christmas days. To the feeling of love, togetherness and safety, which I have been trying to pass on to our children now.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a Christian or not as if I succeeded, it should take you back to your own younger self, bygone years and memories. Growing older and feeling nostalgic is a universal thing and this is my best effort of providing the feeling of nostalgia only in the positive, happy, calming way.
I’m aware how privileged I am to have a great, supportive, loving family. This album is dedicated to all people estranged from their once closest ones.
I hope the album will make your own holiday, whenever and no matter how often you celebrate it, serene, meditative and more beautiful.
Lots of joy and love to all of you, my virtual friends!
Binaural Space, December 1, 2019, the First Advent Sunday
supported by 11 fans who also own “Lofi Ambient Xmas”
Far out is an excellent descriptor for GOATS latest release. While saying that, if feels personal and nostalgic at times too. Never a dull moment as they say. It’s just really cool. Take a listen to it.. acefstripe