Somewhere inside the body of Julian Koster — the Elephant 6 and Neutral Milk Hotel alumnus who once released an entire album of Christmas songs performed on a singing saw — lives a 13-year-old boy filled with wonder, imagination and a talent for spinning a good, quirky tale. Just in time for the holidays, and with the season in mind, Koster and his friends brought those wide-eyed songs and earnest spirit to the NPR Music offices for a joyful and strange Tiny Desk Concert performance.
Collectively known as The Music Tapes, they mixed bowed banjos and singing saws with tape machines, a chord organ and a crooning snowman to create a psychedelic holiday music pageant. Whether it's the traditional "The First Noel" (scored here for two musical saws) or a reworking of Gavin Bryars' avant garde piece "Jesus Blood," or even their venture into Santa songs, there's no one else playing holiday music quite like this. That is, unless you're a band of 13-year-olds with very vivid imaginations.
- "The First Noel"
- "Freeing Song For Reindeer"
- "Jesus Blood"
- "Takeshi And Elijah"
- "Zat You, Santa Claus?"
Filmed and edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Cristina Fletes