Astrocolor's "Lit Up - Music for Christmas" has gotten a lot of coverage on the sites of the usual suspects in the Christmas Music Web (kind of like the Dark Web, but brighter and more twinkly), so I was going to give it a quick review and then keep moving on to the next record, but listening through it again to prep for writing this post, I decided I have to write a more complete review.
"Lit Up" is the debut album from Astrocolor, hailing from "the western edge of Canada" according to their website. "Lit Up" has 10 songs, foundations of the Christmas Music Canon, but as you've never heard them before. The treatment that "We Three Kings", "Sleigh Ride", "O Christmas Tree", and the other seven songs get is a unique and completely new listening experience. Self-described as "ambient, dubby, and jazzy", I would add layered, synth, funky, smooth, cosmic, and dreamy to the list of descriptors. These styles are expertly blended with perfectly executed instrumental and vocal performances.
The music is enigmatic. It is so familiar to us all, yet more than just re-arrangements to make a totally fresh and interesting listening experience. It's soothing and has a background-music vibe, yet always exists in the forefront. For some reason, one impression while listening was that it's like a cat - the music demands your attention, then turns away once you come to it. It's Schrodinger's Christmas Music - it is both background and foreground, it is both classic and original, it is and it isn't traditional.
Sometimes these experimental records fall flat, or veer off so far from the mainstream that they lose direction. Not with "Lit Up". It has that sound of a perfectly executed musical vision. Even the album's sub-title reflects the surreal nature of this record, "Music for Christmas". Not Christmas music, it's music for Christmas. Der Bingle likes it a lot. Check it out on Spotify, buy it on iTunes or Amazon, or order up a special green vinyl edition, to be released December 11th.