Vienna in the snow, ca. 2008. Happy winter, Austria - this EP is a fitting soundtrack. Photo (CC-BY-SA) gego2605.

Cool Yule: Smart Austrian Ambient Electronica Album, Benefits Homeless

Call it experimental electro, ambient house… whatever the genre, Parque is smart, chilled-out music from Vienna. Full of cinematic cross-cuts and sharply-contrasted sound design, the EP “Amerika” is bathed in pleasantly-mellow melancholy. It’s only a debut, but an impressive one. The love and time put into production shines through. We’re pleased to introduce CDM reader Bene, aka Parque, to the site and listeners. And the Bavarian-born, Vienna-based Bene has a nice benefit in mind as he makes his holiday-timed release: All incoming proceeds until end of this year (minus Bandcamp and PayPal fees) will be forwarded to a Viennese homeless …

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This holiday, take a holiday to another world, chip music style. An imagined NES dimension, here envisioned (CC-BY-SA) torley.

Cool Yule: Toy Company’s Free 8-bit/Lo-Fi Christmas Album, from Montreal

Whether you’re unwrapping presents or not, we’re spending these twenty four hours unwrapping some beautiful musical gifts: have a Yule that’s cool with fine, free/donationware releases. First in the queue… If unimaginative holiday music on endless repeat has given you the winter blues, the fine folks of Toy Company have the cure. The Montreal-based collective and 8-bit/lo-fi techno party series have brought together a number of friends with original tunes and noise and digital-fuzz-laden covers of tunes like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” Meticulously-rendered, quirky music is free to hear, or thank the artists by naming your own …

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From a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, Endless Synthy Sonic Variations: Free Ableton Pack

At this time of year, we come together, hearts aglow, and celebrate the simple pleasure of how much fun field recording and sampling can be in sound design. Or something like that. If you want a broader or more religious message, I’m sure you’ll find no shortage elsewhere. Having successfully weathered Armageddon (whew!), our friend AfroDJMac is back with a set of Ableton Live synths sampled from a Charlie Brown Christmas tree snowglobe. And as in the classic television Charlie Brown show, a single branch becomes a lush, full tree with some love. No, really: this is a perfect demonstration …

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The Listening Tree: A Holiday Tree Whose Colored Lights Respond to Sound

Wintertree from Limbic Media on Vimeo. Winter: it’s dark. So, it’s no coincidence that holiday traditions from Christian to Jewish to Pagan to … uh, New Year’s … celebrate light. And it’s fun watching in this video the delight as colored lights respond to sound – not in the endlessly-playing annoying-Christmas-tune way, but in the “you can sing to a tree and it’ll light up” way. Limbic Media writes CDM with this project they did in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) commissioned Limbic Media to design an audio reactive tree for the holiday season using …

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snow

Holiday for Your Ears: Tailored’s Brilliant Xmas Mega-Mix, Free to Stream and Download

The weather outside is frightful, but the hi-fi is so delightful. Let it snow. Photo (CC-BY) Junichiro AOYAMA, Kyoto. From Berlin’s Melissa Taylor and Tailored Communication, for my money, just about the best publicist for electronic music out there, we get one epic playlist. If you’re lucky enough to get one holiday or another (Christmas? Boxing Day?) in the next few days, fire up this terrific playlist. You get a full range, from some favorites of mine in 2011 like best-of-toppers Sepalcure, Ghostly’s Mark E, mainstay Thomas Fehlmann, Four Tet, and many more. It’s exceptional quality stuff, perfect to settle …

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cork_christmas

Listening: A Punky, Darkwave, Ice Level Game Austrian Christmas Album from Ireland; Laila Dub Christmas

Christmas in Cork, at – where else – McDonald’s. Photo (CC-BY-SA) jf1234. If you can find a spot in the rotation with your Mannheim Steamroller collection for something a bit different, CDM reader Leigh Walsh of Cork, Ireland sends in her work. She describes it as “punky gothy electronic … for Christmas,” with any proceeds benefiting Autism research. The single sounds crazy, but for me, things get good with the game world-like, shimmering “Secret Inside the Ice Level” and “Melody for the Sewn Princess” tracks. I can find myself mentally wandering an 8-bit ice cave level right now… Austrian Christmas …

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mannheimsteamrollercover

It’s Good to Be Mannheim Steamroller: Egyptian Artefacts, Wolves, and a Cape to Wear in the Studio – WSJ

Image: Jason Hickey. As Christmas revelers head out for last-minute shopping in the last surge of pre-holiday capitalism, they might catch over piped music the ouvre of one Mannheim Steamroller. For all the electronic artists we might imagine as representing the genre, this guy has sold one heck of a lot of Christmas records, in a strange brew of hyper-active electrified timbres and New Age. How many records? Well, enough that he is able to, from his Omaha home, raise wolves. Not yet fully grown, they require a full-time trainer (they now respond to commands in German), walks up to …

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musescorexmas

Lovely Christmas Songbook for iPad, Built with Open Source Scoring Tools (More Platforms Coming)

Have an uncommon yule with tools and music from the Commons. That’s the pitch (so to speak) of the Ultimate Christmas Songbook, an iPad app built with 50 Christmas songs and a fully free and open source notation engine. Making use of public domain songs, the number of songs available continues to grow as the community contributes tunes. (Those contributors got the app for free.) As notation proliferates on tablets, the app also suggests that “commercial” doesn’t have to mean “closed.” The scores themselves are available in open, cross-platform formats (MIDI, MusicXML, MuseScore, and PDF). But by generating revenues, the …

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From Christmas Tree Lights, A Lo-Fi Ableton Synth

It’s that time of the year, when the halls echo with the sound of … horrible electronic synthesized Christmas tunes, playing on endless loops from strings of lights and other cheap electronics! But wait – what if you could take those sounds and embrace their low-fidelity, chippy sounds to more inventive musical purposes? Turn to our friend AfroDJ, who has gradually built up several dozen Ableton Live racks. The latest samples Christmas tree lights for a festive, chiptastic holiday timbre. I just put up my Christmas tree and put on some lights that play Christmas songs. The songs are comprised …

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LEGO Christmas Tree Plays Carols, Courtesy Max/MSP, Custom Electronics

Desmond Dodecahedron has the craziest way of celebrating the season I’ve seen this year: just build a giant Christmas tree from LEGOs, then use visual programming environment Max/MSP and some custom electronics to trigger tunes. Desmond writes: Once I discovered that the word “advent” was actually an abbreviation of “audio event” and the fact that we have had lots of snow in London – I decided to create this Christmas Carol note filtering tree. (in this case it is actually a midi event tree – but you get the general idea). Each pitch class of a Carol i.e. all the …

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