Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nichole & The Dreamcatchers, et al - 2003 - Krismus Karuls

I came across this album on file sharing yesterday and grabbed it just because the title piqued my curiosity. What a serendipitous find! It's definitely my favorite record of the week. Lately my interests run to xmas music as well as oddball and outsider music. This album satisfies both interests and had me grinning like a basket full of possum heads all evening. I found this review on Asthmatic Kitty Records:
I have a new Christmas tradition. Somewhere after the turkey is put to rest, I wander into my Itunes to dig out Nicole and the Dreamcatchers who woo me into delight and hilarity for 7 songs amounting to a little under 6 minutes of time. Who is Nicole and what is she about? I can tell you for sure that I don't know. And what I don't know my mind gets to put tooth to. I think she is a girl somewhere around 12 years of age who has a bad time carrying a tune, but is incredibly fun and imaginative. She is also someone who has a grip on true holiday excitement and anticipation that is sought in ideal by so many...Nicole doesn't seek illumination - she owns it.
Sounds Are Active had the full scoop:
Okay kids. Here it tis. The singularly amazing, underground classic (to all 30 people who have a copy) Krismus Karuls.

Originally released in 2003 on Konstrictor Productions this fantastically bizzare record features both a 7 song Christmas EP from Nichole & The Dreamcatchers, whose lead singer, Nichole, is in full command of her twelve year old voice. Amazing stuff. Then the full on extravaganza. Two tracks from Half-Handed Cloud, The Mary Hamhocks (Liz Janes and husband- erstwhile Slowly Rotating Fan- Michael Kaufmann) and Mary Krismus. Probably the prettiest thing Create (!) has ever recorded ("Hymn for St. John of Shanghai"- bonus points if you know what he is the patron saint of...), a great lo-fi, fun instrumental from elusive My Marathon and a simply astounding piece of music from Joel Pickell (drummer and musician in the travelling Half-Handed Cloud circus). What is Christmas without kids!?? Childhood tape recordings from 1978 and 87 bookend the tracks and the album tops off with "Red & Green" from themorningcall featuring some sweet baby chatter.

WOW! Merry Christmas indeed! Get it while you can...
A commenter there also filled in the history of the album:
I am still amazed by this wonderful little nugget. The first section (tracks 1-7) were all recorded in the early summer of 2003, when some friends of the family flew out of Lenoir City, Tennessee to see us here in Berkeley California.
Their daughter, Nichole age twelve, has a unique voice. The summer before, when they visited us, we had done some recordings with her that kept us anticipating their next visit. Nichole’s ideas were incredible. Listening to her was refreshing. The music she made didn’t obey the rules. It was real and impossible to recreate.
When she visited us the second time, I had already planned how the session was going to unravel. We would only do Christmas songs. We were going to record as many as we could.
After they left, my brother Rian and I played the songs for our friend John Ringhofer who was very amazed by the sugar coated pop brainchild kid. “Laughs”.
Anyway, the tapes were soon forgotten and left to rust and gather crumbs in the filth and scatter of our carpet. Meanwhile, I was writing some Christmas songs of my own. I talked to John about the songs I had been working on; he told me he had a few Christmas songs up his sleeves also, and wouldn’t it be cool if we made a small compilation. “I’m sure the Campfire Kids would be into it”, he said. “What about the Nichole stuff?”, I asked,” I really wanted to get that stuff finished too.”. “Let’s just put it all on one disc.” he said. This was a clever suggestion because Nichole had already finished the artwork. The only thing left to do was the inside designs, recording, and emailing.
Even though there wasn’t much time left until Christmas, everyone got there songs finished and sent in by the deadline. The final product was a Christmas tour de force. If you don’t believe me, try it out yourself. That’s not a dare; that’s a promise. Thank you John and Chris and everyone who contributed their time. Happy holidays. I’ve got ringworm.
Er, thanks for sharing. Anyway, you should hear this album. Download the individual files at Sounds Are Active or get the full album with hi-res scans of the cover, CD face (priceless) and booklet in a zip file here. Let me know if that link expires and I'll re-upload it.

Special thanks to artist Jonathan Dueck, who doesn't know me from Adam's housecat but was kind enough to scan and send me all the album art when I emailed him out of the blue. (Bonus: I was introduced to his amazing work.)

Listening to: Nichole & The Dreamcatchers - Chocolate Stars (I'll Be Home)