Sunday, December 10, 2023

Second Hand Orchestra

Guestpost by Joris 'Stereo' Gillet:

A Christmas album for people who don't like Christmas albums? With a little bit of imagination the instrumentation on So, this is Christmas​.​. by the Second Hand Orchestra - lots of brass and woodwinds - could be interpreted as take on the seasonal Salvation Army Band approach.
But instead of a merry round of carols the result is more Moondog and (Japanese bands like) Tenniscoats and Maher Shalal Hash Baz. The tempo and melodies are slow and sombre. The sound pallet rich and warm and but it's no Wall of Sound. There are no bells. The selection of songs doesn't help with the Christmassy atmosphere.

It is a mixture of what I assume to be Swedish standards, which I, a non-Swede, don't recognize, and some classics. But these classics are interpret so radically different that they feel like almost entirely new songs. Under normal circumstances, nobody doing Fairytale of New York will do something with it that won't make you think that you'd rather be listening to the original.
Here, with the trombone (I think) carrying the melody, accompanied by steel drum florishes, it certainly does stir up memories of the Pogues version but takes those subsequently to such a new place that it feels like something completely of its own and rather special.

The Second Hand Orchestra is a project from Karl Jonas Winqvist who, as a producer, has worked with James Yorkston and the Wau Wau Collectif. The communal aspect of the album - it's a big band with contributions from loads of musicians playing a wide range of instruments - and that it sounds like that, cozy and intimate, is what it makes so appropriate for this time of year.


Oscar smit said...

Nice post Joris. Good to hear from you :-)