Dave Clarkson - Ghosts Of Christmas Past (Music From Vintage Toys)

Released: December 1

It is often the case that Christmas music ends up being quite saccharine and campy without consideration for the more haunting aspects of the holiday. Fortunately, his new album from Dave Clarkson dives into this with an exploration of the very personal past, namely the childhood presents received during this holiday. Sampling a number of vintage toys such as wind-up robots, talking dolls, music boxes, and the sounds of the legendary speak-and-spell; Clarkson delves into the subject in a way that is both nostalgic and eerie. The manner in which these sounds are structured into fully fleshed out pieces in both intriguing and masterful, stirring up all manner of emotions of which some are slightly playful while others are atmospheric and evocative. 

On the darker side, we have "Talking Tears" which utilizes the pre-recorded speech of a talking doll singing out the classic nursery rhyme Ring Around The Rosy (a nursery rhyme with its own sordid history) alongside deep and dark atmospheric pads. But the the song later morphs into something a little less dark before producing a refrain to this unsettling rhyme. Then we move on to "Speak and Spell (AI v2.1)" which has a less ominous feel as the lo-fi percussion keeps a slightly energetic beat alongside a somewhat bouncy bass part. But the messages coming from the Speak-and-Spell give a different vibe as it utters out phrases like "enough is enough" and "I was serious." It gives the otherwise energetic track a weird undertone that is hard to put my finger on. The album ends us on "Dream of a Child," which features the voice of a child singing out Humpty Dumpy as oddly oscillating synths play out in swelling fashion. It really seems to bring the album back to the fact that this is not supposed to be a comfortable Christmas listen, but it may be the one you should hear. 


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