Johnny Woods & Josh Ascalon
Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come

Released: 19 November 2020
Label: Superspectrum Records

Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come Johnny Woods Josh Ascalon
Lingering at the outer limits of the holiday music section, Johnny Woods & Josh Ascalon have this Noel deployed down our chimney their Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come (34:17), an irresistibly listenable electronic release of eight bright Yuletide tracks. Rolling out one musical confection after another this duo does know when to cut the sugar - enough to render their quiet subversiveness into something politely experimental. Extremely serious about their craft here Woods & Ascalon interpret for us an ogdoad of time-honored Christmas classics. With their modular synthesizer system delivering sounds, notes and tones fully animated, if not completely by the spirit of Christmas, then utterly by the principal of electricity, these crossed-wired quintessential carols light up the listening mind like strings of twinkling fairy lights. Set against distant chimes a familiar strain reaches us, from perhaps a place of childhood memory. The confidently cold crystaline timbres heard on The Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come climb through the canon of holiday music, then soon tune down to the quieter frequencies - inside songs where we may feel fully a heart-swelling comfort. Whenever the airy softness gets to be too much, the muted luster of rumbling oscillations drifts in under the frosty layers, dimming the mood beneath the weakening eye of day. Ringing across this frozen panorama melodies, murmurous and uninflected, run together in a soothing texture, yet we sense the atmosphere casting a darker hue. Most Electronic Music is about sound seeking and exploratory pursuit, but this album seems to be mainly about Christmas and one of its most ominous characters. In the scattering gloom this unknowable figure provides, like the future itself, nothing but foreboding silence. Yet, to this spectre we ask if fate can be changed? Can we overcome the gravitational pull of this story's dark subject? If not, if we are past all hope, why then play this warmhearted music for us? ...It is because the tale from which the title The Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come is taken is ultimately about conversion and transformation. In a simplicity of heart its carols hope to bring people together each end-of-year season. In a quality of eternal reassurance this feeling will hold us - when we are once again alone in the quiet night.

- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END   24 December 2020

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