**** Various Artists: hOMe for the Holidays
*** Various Artists: Christmas Remixed
*** (for CD) / ***** (for DVD) Various Artists: The Reindeer Room Vol. 2
Christmas chillout CDs? Are you kidding? (Regular readers of this site will be familiar with my rant about the overwhelming influx of "chillout" CDs into the bins of record stores everywhere. See "Plush" review (link on side of the page) I wrote a few months back.) First of all, let me state that I love this type of music known to most as "chillout" music, however, you can imagine my reaction when these Holiday-influenced chillout albums came across my desk- UGH! Luckily, the results were pleasantly surprising on all three accounts. All albums feature cuts produced or remixed by some heavy hitters along with some lesser known producers to round out the collections.
hOMe for the Holidays - OM Records
hOMe for the holidaysOm Records
First up is "hOMe for the Holidays" brought to you by the fine West coast deep house label, Om Records. As with most of their compilations, Om dips into their accomplished, in-house stable of talent for a fine CD of updated Christmas classics. Artists like Kaskade, Rithma, and J Boogie's Dubtronic Science offer up reworked & reshuffled holiday classics resulting in a stunningly beautiful album for those that enjoy holiday music that is slightly different from the tried & true standards. "Charlie Brown Cut Up" by Colossus (1/2 of King Kooba) stands out as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" receives a turntablist's update.
Christmas Remixed - Six Degrees
Also on the Christmas dance CD front this year is "Christmas Remixed," which allows Six Degrees Records to take the "Verve Remixed" concept to a festive, holiday-inspired level. On this CD, classic Christmas artists like Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Dean Martin & others get respectful regrooves from remixers like Mocean Worker, Dan The Automator, and Robbie Hardkiss. All mixes luckily stay very true to the original versions with an added "oomph" characterised by the dope beats, cut-up samples, and scratches. Orlando's Beef Wellington funks up Bing Crosby's "Happy Holidays" so much that it sounds like something worth playing year round. Only cop I find is with Attaboy's remix of "The First Noel" originally recorded by Bing Crosby. (I find it hard to believe that this high-energy pile of reindeer droppings was done by the ex-Toko/Pagan artist named Attaboy.) Overall, this album will provide the perfect soundtrack for your "so-hip-it-hurts" Holiday festivities.
The Reindeer Room Volume II - Kriztal Entertainment
Reindeer Room 2Kriztal Entertainment
Finally, another highly recommended choice for the Christmas cocktail crowd is "The Reindeer Room Volume II" on Kriztal Entertainment. This collection mostly features unknown producers (except for Jon Kennedy from Grand Central), but the production is top notch. Obscure carols shine through in their latest incarnations amidst the more recognisable Christmas fare. These versions are very seductive and are perfect for playing towards the tipsy end of any Holiday soiree. The smooth, sexy sounds are sure to help you make a new friend for the evening. Also, this CD gets major points solely for the fact that they've included a bonus DVD of a Yule Log fireplace! So if you do end up pulling at said Holiday soiree, you won't even need to build a fire to lay beside!