Tiny Desk

The Music Tapes

The Music Tapes: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/143640152/143954718" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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.

Set List

  • "The First Noel"
  • "Freeing Song For Reindeer"
  • "Jesus Blood"
  • "Takeshi And Elijah"
  • "Zat You, Santa Claus?"

Credits

Filmed and edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Cristina Fletes

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Albin Lee Meldau performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 12, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Albin Lee Meldau

Albin Lee Meldau possesses a thunderous, deeply affecting voice, which he uses to tell some utterly dark, but demonstrably cathartic, tales.

Rare Essence performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 9, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Rare Essence

Rare Essence has been bringing go-go to the world since 1976 — the group brought that pedigree, and the genre's massive meld of funk, rhythm and blues and soul, to this raucous hometown Tiny Desk.

Tuxedo performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 20th, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tuxedo

Tuxedo, the unlikely-on-paper funk-soul duo of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One, brought a left-of-center sonic approach and a sharp sense of style to their Tiny Desk Concert.

Fragile Rock performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 16, 2017. (Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Fragile Rock

Fragile Rock is a band that relies on the boogie of The B-52s, the melancholy of The Smiths and the humor of Kermit the Frog. Oh, and they're all puppets.

Jay Som performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 7, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Jay Som

Melina Duterte may have played all the instruments on Jay Som's newest record, Everybody Works, but her touring band brought a rougher edge to those silky recordings.

Chance The Rapper performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chance The Rapper

Chance The Rapper, fresh from a 23,000-strong, sold-out show the night before, brought a thoughtful and fresh take to his Tiny Desk concert.

Helado Negro performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 22, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Helado Negro

Helado Negro ditches his bank of electronics for alto and tenor saxophones, bringing his utterly unique style to a intense, perfectly balanced Tiny Desk Concert.

Ravi Coltrane performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 4, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ravi Coltrane Quartet

Artistic legacy, evolution and studied ease coalesced at this Tiny Desk Concert, with Coltrane offering four interpretations of his and others' works.

Holly Macve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Holly Macve

Backed by a suitably low-key band, Macve would sound subtly radiant just about anywhere, from your nearest country bar to the most dreamily lit stage in Twin Peaks.

Tigers Jaw performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 19, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tigers Jaw

The duo strips down to acoustic guitar and keyboard for a strikingly intimate set, illuminating their close harmonies that tangle like garlands.

Back To Top