Eban Schletter’s Cosmic Christmas is described as a yuletide odyssey – but it’s also bizarre theremin-filled exotica that’s likely to find fans among curmudgeons and send people hoping for a little old-fashion Christmas running from the room.
Schletter has a varied background – ranging from music for SpongeBob SquarePants to playing with System Of A Down or acting as the drummer for the all-girl band Stone Fox (dressed as the skanky “Debbie”).
While other artists are looking to the past, Schletter has created a concept album based on the idea that “a military satellite finds itself in the midst of a musical “transmission” which forces it to rethink its primary directive.”
The album doesn’t hit you over the head with the concept, though.
Instead, Cosmic Christmas combines original songs and instrumentals with modern electronic exotica takes on Christmas classics. There’s some great “spacey” theremin work on Schletter’s versions of Christmas Time Is Here, We Three Kings and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
Schletter also uses tremendous variety in his arrangements. He channels Brian Wilson on Super Small – a song about protecting everything super small – using minimal instrumentation and layered vocals. His take on Carol Of The Bells has a 70’s modular synth vibe, somewhere between the happy synth-pop of Jean Jacques Perrey and the music of Isao Tomita. His Auld Lang Syne is a straightforward vibes & theremin duet.
Schletter even does a fairly solemn theremin and “strings” version of Silent Night.
The weak spot, at least for these ears, is a set of three spoken word interludes that serve the album concept – a sort of dialog of the military satellite’s computers. Kids may love it – but most would probably prefer a few more of Schletter’s quirky songs or his theremin arrangements of traditional tunes.
Eban Schletter’s Cosmic Christmas is one of the most original Christmas albums in years. It offers some very nice electronic exotica, some lovely theremin work and best of all, something daringly different.
You can check out some samples from Schletter’s Cosmic Christmas on his MySpace page.