Zaft 027   Various Artists   Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men

Track listing:

  1. C/A/T: Christmas 2001
  2. .V.L.A.D. The Impaling Machine: Santa Are Killed Baby
  3. Xome: XMAS Cake
  4. \\\: Wind
  5. 13RXTNLE: Smokin' Mistletoe
  6. r-drik: Kerst Mist
  7. Conure: Ralphie 2
  8. Goose: Coventry Carol
  9. DJ Saint Nick: Mark Wilson is the International Santa Claus of Noise
  10. eM: If on a Winter's Night (Version)
  11. ga-ne-tli-yo-s-di: A Runaway Christmas
  12. lefthandeddecision: chest/nut
  13. Zelifkizum: O Holy Night
  14. Lather: Santa Sleeps
  15. Stolen Light: Santa Goes AWOL
  16. Ovum: Dan Fore Dan
  17. Suspicion Breeds Confidence: Tennis Light
  18. TGF: Drunken Rudolph Song
  19. Wilt: Little Drummer Boy Lost

Ho Ho Ho! It doesn't seem like I have been doing Christmas compilations for three years already, but I guess I have. Every year it seems to get better. I still think back to the day that I decided to do the first one. What a mess. The second one was rife with problems as well. Every year I seem to cause some problems, but it all seems to work out somehow. I was very impressed with the mix this year. Not too much noise, not too much dark ambient. All this and it's the first Zaftig Research release to come out on time! I have my wife to thank for that.

Here's what Re:mote Induction had to say:

Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men follows Let It Snow as 2001's Christmas compilation from Zaftig Research. Only one disc this year, compared to last years two, but still 19 tracks of Christmas themed noise and play.

The compilation starts with C/A/T, the sample "happy birthday to you dear jesus" kicking Christmas 2001 off, by triggering stunted pulses which form a slow rhythm. Distorted beats add picking the pace up, flicking back and forth between sides in a rush. Further in layers add more beats and more force, making this a blocky acceleration. This maintains a steady form for a while and then a buzzing bass line comes up, working through further vocal samples. The phrase "Santa Claus Of Noise" repeats through the start of Santa are Killed Baby, V.L.A.D. the Impaling Machine bringing about these early stages of structural collapse, blocky disassembly. Layers of breathy, evil voices filtering through thumping beats - "santa baby..." At times through the clatter the original "santa claus of noise" can still be heard.

An announcement starts Xome's XMAS Cake off, a stream of noise. Static wash extending with bass plunges at work. The sound thickens into a harder barrage of sound - on the surface straining while rip streams tear past; within that other details blip and pulse with shifts of electronic signal. Falling into a looping chop of structural impact. Bass waves shimmer at the low levels of \\\'s Wind, reverberating growth causing distortion around the edges. Sustaining the low rumble bass that peaks with a more solid bass, which gives the hard waver that causes the distinct vibration.

13RXTNLE allow a short static burst to start Smokin' Mistletoe, tuning into signals, wavering in frequency shifts and spacey fluctuations. Waves flow with a bass strum to flesh the sound out a little. A computer voice repeats the word "snow" through R-Drik's Kerst Mist, against a slight crackle and wire strokes. String flurries come up, backed by drama. Conclusion comes with a cut off noise rush. Conure return to last year's theme with Ralphie 2, children sing jingle bells, a looped vocal tone reverberates, reducing to a clipped stroke that triggers the chop of percussion. Broken glass beats are periodic while a bass strum repeats. Layering towards a more intense twitter of sound. Stripping down there is more of an exploration of the separate elements, atmospheric pulses with clatters and vocal chatter.

Chiming melody plays against a wind stream - Goose's Coventry Carol being part traditional celebrant and part mournful reflection. Waves building atmospheres below while the notes become more periodic in their changing sequences. Mark Wilson Is The International Santa Claus Of Noise, and so say all of us! Well DJ Saint Nick does anyway with his rendition of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, driven through noise filters provided by the Santa Claus Of Noise. A droning tone plays along with distant singing in Off On A Winter's Night (Version), M introducing a wind sweep that comes up through that, adding to the hollow, diffuse impressions. Drifting progression that keeps potential working beneath the surface. Bells chime, echo and stroke, delicate addition to the rumble and waver of harmonic drone line. Notes plink, their form sort of suggesting a Christmas tune.

The word "something" (a Coil sample?) repeats through a swirl and tinkle in ya-ne-tli-yos-di's A Runaway Christmas. From that the track opens rising sigh of wondrous melodic influence, looping against a bass drone; punctuated by a light crackle. A deeper bass comes in strokes, repeating after a moment and triggering an overdriven buzzing noise thread through the core. Guitar strums and chords come up through the layers, gradually gaining ground. As the other elements fade and we return to "something". The next track is so obviously Lefthandeddecision straight from the start, in typical style we can hear a track in Chest/nut, possible melody and vocal, saturated by crackling noise and distortion.

A melody plays in periodic notes to start Zelifkizum's O Holy Night, hollow wind based sounding string tones contrast in worried flurries. While beats patter and tumble, stray to pattern and cut through the fore. Shifts creating significant sections and atmosphere. Low bass shields a dunt of notes, like Lather's Santa Sleeps is heard through a wall. Lines purr in a putter of detail over that. Maintaining a stripped interface that suggests more from what you can't hear than can. Looping a child asking about Santa Claus before unleashing the noise track by Stolen Light, Santa Goes AWOL constructed from dense signal layers. Electric buzz and tear, swirl, choke and drone.

Ovum's Dan Fore Dan features wheezing keyboard notes, playing out a wandering upbeat melody, humming notes accompanying this in slow turns. Guess who got a casiotone for Christmas? Suspicion Breeds Confidence follows with bass warbles, fluctuating with buzz edges through Tennis LIght, emerging as a gargling, filtered vocal stream. Distorted clipped noise rumbles and twitches in TGF's Drunken Rudolph Song, filtering through that an old recording of Rudolf. Further we have different people singing, the noise increasingly agitated in its dense barrage. Wilt finish with Little Drummer Boy Lost, where muffled wavering bass fluctuates with clean, clapped beats and mildly distorted thumps. As a clean bass line comes up from droning these elements filter off. expanding in subtle layers, slow melody hinted, wavering bass working on an intensity that risks distortion.

With 19 tracks there is a lot of material here, ranging from stripped atmospheric pieces to full on noise works with an experimental mix between, some tracks are more blatantly Christmas themed than others. That in mind it can be difficult to pick out the tracks which particularly stand out, though from this listen my choices would be R-Drik, Goose, M, ya-ne-tli-yo-si, and Zelifkizum.

Here's what Aversionline had to say:

This is a lengthy 19-track experimental noise compilation CD-R with a silly theme that I'm not too big on. It's a Christmas compilation of sorts, and even though the theme has little or no effect on the sounds within, and does provide some humorous song titles such as "Mark Wilson is the International Santa Claus of Noise" Christmas is still stupid, and I'd much rather hear these 19 artists exploring their own themes/interests. There are a lot of diverse tracks herein, and the first one that really jumps out at me is "Wind", by the interestingly named project, \\\. Yes, that's right, the band name is \\\. "Wind" is the first track that is fairly calm, using dense, suffocating swells with ever so slight distortion to create a brooding environment. Goose offers up a similarly dark piece, utilizing a lot of space and very quiet undercurrents with some strange, somewhat eerie keyboard notes. DJ Saint Nick, responsible for the aforementioned "Mark Wilson is the International Santa Claus of Noise", presents what is by far the most hilarious track herein. Imagine a highly distorted MIDI of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with some humorous samples and computerized vocals. Nice! Lefthandeddecision appears in fine form with "chest|nut", a blistering attack of clear and ultra abrasive harsh noise. And Wilt closes things out with a brilliant tune by the name of "Little Drummer Boy Lost", the usual type of dark ambient/death industrial dirge for which Wilt is known. Amidst the rest of the tracks there are several impressive entries, I just find myself very bored by the Christmas theme. It's hard to take tracks with names like "Drunken Rudolph Song" or "Smokin' Mistletoe" seriously, even though they're solid tracks, because they're not really funny. That's where DJ Saint Nick plays the part: The song is as amusing as the title. Elsewhere it just seems like a lot of projects contributing tracks that would obviously have nothing to do with Christmas were it not for a few holiday samples or a silly title, which again makes me feel like the Christmas theme is a bad idea, though the sounds themselves are usually pretty interesting. My only other point of constructive criticism would be the packaging. The front cover is just a blank piece of textured maroon paper with some gold specks in it, while the back cover is printed from a home computer on plain cream-colored paper. The font is also hard to read, so I'm still having a hard time figuring out who some of the contributors are (not to mention that there is no contact information or anything listed for any of the projects). Not bad, but in the future there's no need to waste a solid compilation on a stupid christian holiday.
Running time - 71:24, Tracks: 19
[Notable bands: \\\, Goose, DJ Saint Nick, Lefthandeddecision, Wilt]