|I often claim to hate Christmas music, but of course, like most things in life, this is an oversimplification for comic effect.
|The High Kings
|"Driving Home for Christmas"
|As an atheist, I object to the oblivious cultural normatization of any particular religious story. As a music listener I am mostly drawn forward towards things I have not yet heard. Christmas is not the only cultural factor driving the communal repetition of existing canonized religiously-derived music, but in my world it's the most patronizingly glib and temporarily omnipresent.
|"Of All the Charlie Browns in the World, I'm the Charlie Browniest"
|Happy Holidays, I Miss You
|As a person paid to work on music-recommendation and -categorization systems, I am also inescapably concerned with Christmas music for a month or so every year, regardless of my personal inclinations.
|"It Ain't Christmas Yet"
|It Ain't Christmas Yet +1
|Which maybe sounds like a misery-inducing combination, but one of the things I like best about my job is that it mostly prevents me from actually avoiding the things I nominally hate.
|People lament the bubble-creating properties of "algorithms", but the ones I work on are mostly the opposite, relentless uncontainable implicit anti-complacency forces.
|Rebecca & Fiona
|"Cold As X-mas"
|Maybe this means that other people are just better at it, better at making reductive, insular robots that deliver only trivial variations on the familiar.
|Except -- of course (I think), and I think (of course) -- it doesn't actually work like that. I have reductive robots, too. They are interesting and valuable for a lot of people and purposes, and thus I care about them a lot.
|I just don't use them much for actual personal listening. At this point in my life, at least, I would mostly rather hear new variations on things I love than those literal things again.
|"We Three Kings"
|O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 2
|And thus I have also become sort of paradoxically obsessed with alternative Christmas music in a similar way to how I have become fascinated with the streaming era's new abundance of DIY covers of major pop songs.
|"O Helga Natt"
|I don't want to hear the old Christmas songs, but I am reliably curious to hear what other people have replaced them with. This is not endorsement, I hope, any more than landscape awe attributes moral authority to erosion.
|La Niña del Tambor 6
|These were a few of the reactions and replacements and resistances I particularly appreciated hearing this year. Merry Christmas to devoted observers and detached observers alike.
|Dragon Heir +1
|But if even this is too much Christmas, and even contemplating the normative from a distance feels like giving it too much power over you, then there's always something else. Like roaring, heroic Japanese fantasy-metal.
|The Great Old Ones
|"When the Stars Align"
|Like contorted French atmospheric Lovecraftian black metal.
|"An Ancient Gate"
|The Howling Mountains
|Like the grim archaeological elation of finding an emaciated trader in oversized clothes and his entire team of miniature flying reindeer frozen miserably to death in a remote Northern waste.
|The difference between jolly nursery tales and mordant fables is, after all, mostly in how you tell the stories.
|"This Woman's Work"
|This Woman's Work / American Girl 2
|Things merely happen; without our narrative interventions they might as well be weather.
|"Aria to Ea (feat. Maile Elizabeth Grace)"
|Distant, unpopulated storms are silent and powerless.
|But then we step into them and every searching, searing wind is a way for us to bear ourselves aloft.
|"Asteapta-Ma Dincolo (De Moarte)"
|Every encroaching catastrophe is the prologue to triumphant rebellion.
|These will not be silent nights.
|The maelstrom will not distract us from our cultivation of yearning,
|will not keep us from seeing ourselves twirling in whatever fire or ice comes.
|"Hexahedron: Tilling the Human Soil"
|Attempt to destroy us and we will make fragile poems out of your bloated rage, and then grind them into a medicinal powder.
|Try to starve us and we will cheerfully go Hungary.
|Border of Worlds
|Try to mute us and the sound of the absence of the music we make will assemble itself into music.
|Raise a grub-fingered, hate-gloved fist to the tireless robots and elves and humans bringing you bright bits of infinite futures and we will take you by the hand and the act of swinging at us will be joining us in this dance.