It's hard to tell if this is
sincere yuletide cheer or absolute cynicism, isn't it? Can't say Skit and I
are that sure about it either, but there is a tale to tell. We were working
on this track, originally planned to be in excess of 10 minutes, before our
appearance on Neil Crud's radioshow, on which we performed a vastly cut down
version of it. It was a project that was very important to me personally.
You see, I'd been on The Naughty List since 1973, and Twizz would get
very sad, seeing me sat there on Christmas morning with no presents to open.
I don't know if she had put in a good word for me, or Santa had just decided
that 46 years was punishment enough, but not long after Magic Bullet had
formed, we got a phone call from one of his elves offering me a deal; if we
recorded a Christmas song in time for the forthcoming festive season, my
purgatory was over. Thus, with much encouragement from our Twizz, work
began. It was inspired, rather obviously, by the 1976 Can single, a
band whose work we both love and admire, but we fancied doing a "12 incher",
not to mention exploring our artier tendencies a bit too.
To begin, we imagined someone
trudging through the snow with sleighbells, and that's pretty much what the
opening and closing sections are composed of, albeit with much echo and a
few electronics. All are taken from videos we found online, we confess to
not owning sleighbells ourselves and it rarely snows in Knott End-On-Sea,
but we do have electronics aplenty. A few sampled piano notes follow, and
we're in to the main build. There have been a lot of guesses as to what kind
of synthesizer was responsible for the melody, but nobody got it right.
Stylophone. Seriously. We recorded each note separately, pitch-shifted them
down an octave, then cut some random samples from them. Each was looped to
as near its required length as we could get it, then digitally stretched or
shortened to fit perfectly, a process which serendipitously created some
wonderful phase beats and clicks. The final touch was the 'hurdy-gurdy'
sound, actually created by stretching out a low piano note and looping it.
Well, in spite of the little
bit of cynicism involved in leaving the little ker-ching of the till at the
end (Skit's idea, and he wonders why he gets coal!), it worked, Santa was
good to his word. Come Christmas morning, there on top of the present he'd
brought for Twizz was a little package for me. She was so excited, bless
her, made me open it before she'd even look at any of her own sizeable pile.
Carefully, I unwrapped it, and there before my eyes was series 2 of The
Orville on DVD, one of my favourite shows! That Santa certainly knows
his stuff. On the downside, there was a note; "We liked your Christmas song
very much, but don't expect this every year. Sanoma, Senior Elf, pp Santa."
That seemed a little mean-spirited all things considered, but sure enough,
although we did a pretty cool remix for Christmas 2020, pressies from the
family, but from Santa himself, fuck all...
Left: The Christmas Photo: Rarely perfect first
time... but off The Naughty List after 46 years!