Various Artists: Ornamental (2CD Projekt Holiday Collection)

Original price was: $18.00.Current price is: $10.00.

Product Description

Disc 1 Traditionals
1 Paulina Fae: Frosty the Snowman | MP3 Excerpt
2 Jill Tracy: Coventry Carol
3 Abney Park: Steampunk Jingle Bells | MP3 Excerpt
4 Nicki Jaine (with Ego Likeness): The Little Drummer Boy | MP3 Excerpt
5 Ashkelon Sain with The Dorian Fields: The Christmas Song
      (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) | MP3 Excerpt
6 All My Faith Lost …: In the Bleak Midwinter | MP3 Excerpt
7 Maroulis, Koehn and Mooney: Ave Maria
8 Ego Likeness: What Child Is This?
9 Ericah Hagle: Hanerot Halalu | MP3 Excerpt
10 Mirabilis: Wexford Carol | MP3 Excerpt
11 Forrest Fang: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen MP3 Excerpt
12 Forrest Fang: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
(Ambient Remix) MP3 Excerpt

Disc 2 Non-Traditionals
1 Black Tape for a Blue Girl: Forbidden Colors
      (theme from “Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence”) | MP3 Excerpt
2 Paulina Fae: Snow Queen | MP3 Excerpt
3 Unto Ashes: King of Frost
4 KatzKab: My Sad Wishlist | MP3 Excerpt
5 Unextraordinary Gentlemen: Carriage Driven Horses | MP3 Excerpt
6 Autumn’s Grey Solace: Through the Snowy Trees | MP3 Excerpt
7 Lovespirals: Happy Holidays
8 My Last Duchess: Cradle Song | MP3 Excerpt
9 Paulina Fae: Angels We Have Heard | MP3 Excerpt
10 Erik Wøllo: Crystal Bells 1 | MP3 Excerpt
11 Erik Wøllo: Crystal Bells 2 | MP3 Excerpt

Spread holiday cheer with these goodies

Excelsis long sleeve shirt

Ornamental ~ Various Artists | 2012 2-CD
Silver Smoke, Star of Night (In the Shadow of Christmas) ~ Jill Tracy | 2012

Excelsis v.1 ~ a dark noel | 1995 out of print
Excelsis v.1 ~ a dark noel CASSETTE | 1995
Excelsis v.2 ~ a winter’s song | 1999
Excelsis v.3 (Maxi-CD) ~ a prelude | 2001 out of print
Holiday Single 1 | 2004 Ltd Edition CD-Single
Holiday Single 2 | 2004 Ltd Edition CD-Single
A Dark Noel “a best of” | $5 holiday sampler CD

Digital-Only releases:
Unto Ashes “Spellbound in Winter” | $4.99
Erik Wøllo “Crystal Bells” | $3.99
Paulina Fae “Ice Iris (a holiday ep)” | $3.99

Take the chill off the long, dark winter nights with this merry-cholic potpourri of Yuletide moments. This budget-price 2CD holiday contains 20 previously-unreleased tracks recorded exclusively for this compilation as well as three tracks only available on obscure compilations. It’s an artfully-wrapped holiday treat direct from your favorite Projekt artists with some well-chosen guests.

Stuff your stocking with Projekt’s special blend of steampunk, dark cabaret, gothic, dreampop, Medieval and ethereal-flavored winter classics. Ornamental celebrates in style with one disc of holiday traditionals and one disc of originals in a holiday mood, all designed to woefully delight your friends and puzzle a few of your family members

Black Tape for a Blue Girl presents their first new recording since 2009’s 10 Neurotics: a lush cover of “Forbidden Colours” (theme from the 1985 David Bowie film, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence written by David Sylvian / Ryuichi Sakamoto). It’s a haunting, neo-classical track in the vein of their Remnants of a Deeper Purity album, with lush cello from Unwoman; a track that’s sure to put some spice in your wassail.

Fall under the haunting spell of Jill Tracy’s 16th century lament “Coventry Carol” and frolic to the Steampunk legend Abney Park’s “Jingle Bells.” Florida’s Autumn’s Grey Solace charms with the ethereal shoegaze of “Through the Snowy Trees,” while France’s KatzKab wishes you a Joyeux Noël with their perverted Santa-tale, “My Sad Wishlist.” There’s also new darkwave music from Unto Ashes, LoveSpirals, and noted cover-artist Pauline Fae.

And it wouldn’t be Projekt, without amazing ambient / electronic music. Forrest Fang and Erik Wøllo each close out a disc with an extended soundscape for your snowy fireplace relaxation.

An ethereal tinged holiday experience.

About the cover: The cover features Deerboy and Sapling sharing secrets by Canadian artist Paulina Fae. She taps into a world of magical creatures, creating and sharing her own brew of whimsy. Her unique vision and fanciful designs are collected worldwide. She is creator of the Paulina Tarot, the Joie de Vivre Tarot, and The Faerie Guidance Oracle. In addition to her visual art, Paulina is a songwriter. She now resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband and two cats. Website:

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Additional information

Weight .3 lbs


Release Year



2-CD in 4-panel ecoWallet


  1. Reviews Editor

    From 1340 mag

    Ornamental was originally released a few years back, but since holiday albums don’t really age I thought it would be fun to include it here as the fine folks at Projekt Records were kind enough to provide us with it. The album is a two-disc affair with the first including more traditional arrangements and songs and the second filled with non-traditional tunes.

    As far as the traditionals go, all of this disc is a pretty fun listen. Abney Park’s “Steampunk Jingle Bells” is one of my personal favorites. It’s an upbeat, kinda gypsy leaning tune that sounds folksy but is also instantly recognizable. It’s followed by the album’s other main highlight, Nicki Jaine and Ego Likeness’ version of “The Little Drummer Boy.” Jaine almost sounds like a mid-career Eva O. here, reminding me of how much of a star Jaine is. Her voice just has an amazing “Wow!” factor to it. Other highlights include Forrest Fang’s incredibly moving take on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and All My Faith Lost’s incredibly sad and incredibly beautiful “In The Bleak Midwinter.”

    The non-traditionals are the real powerhouses here. This is partly because left field is what I expect from Projekt Records and partly because the songs feel new…they aren’t really major radio station fodder as you may have guessed. When listening to Unto Ashes’ “King of Frost” you almost start to actually feel cold. A folktale of sorts set to Floydian worship music, it may just be my favorite song on the overall set. Lovespirals soothing and gentle “Happy Holidays” is another excellent moment and a stark contrast to the electro-new wave pop of KatzKab’s fun and upbeat “My Sad Wishlist.”

    If you are looking for a holiday album off the beaten-path (cause there’s a lot of beaten path out there!) that you won’t hear twenty four hours a day on the FM radio dial then you’d do well to pick this one up. It’s fun, it’s musically creative, it’s intimate, and it’s gorgeous. Lovers of music will certainly appreciate this one. -Mark 1340

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Gothic Paradise

    Though the range of artists has grown on this label, expanding beyond the ethereal beauty we’ve grown to love over the years, there’s still something we’ve always been able to count on for so many years, and that is a selection of great Christmas and other holiday music. We’ve been able to enjoy the Excelsis trilogy, along with various other holiday singles and one-offs added here and there over the years. This year (2012) we get another great addition to our holiday catalog with this double-disc release. In all we get 23 excellent tracks, most of which are previously unreleased. The first disc features interpretations of classic carols that span the ages, while the second disc represents new, original works from various artists and styles.

    Starting off the album we get a completely different take on “Frosty the Snowman” with an airy, ambient ethereal feel of wafting vocals over a frosty soundscape with quickly pulsating bass in the background from Paulina Cassidy. This just becomes a great intro to the diverse styles and sounds we get on this disc. Some we’ve heard before such as “The Little Drummer Boy” from Nikki Jane and Ego Likeness. Jill Tracy appears with “Coventry Carol”, a piece from her newly released album featuring her dark, haunting vocals over the equally haunting piano. The Steampunk style isn’t really anything new with the likes of Voltaire appearing in the past on several compilations, but surprisingly enough, he doesn’t make an appearance on this album, but we’re rather presented with the “Steampunk” version of “Jingle Bells” featuring Abney Park.

    While these first few introductory pieces are great alternatives to the classics, I really enjoyed the interpretation of “The Christmas Song” from Ashkelon Sain with Dorian Fields. The ethereal, reverberating guitar and ambient bass create a dreamy atmosphere for this classic favorite, a dreamy soundscape for the solid vocals. Heartbreaking and dreamy is the first thing that comes to mind with “In The Bleak Midwinter” from All My Faith Lost…. I’ve heard many different versions of this song over the years and I don’t think it’s possible to beat Siddal’s interpretation of this piece on Excelsis vol. 2, however, I think this duo have been able to nearly match it with Viola’s dreamy vocals and the somber, minimalistic music. As the album moves on we get more treats, with Ego Likeness presenting their haunting version of “What Child Is This?” and Mirabilis would be missed without their duo of siren-like vocals on the “Wexford Carol”

    The second disc starts out with Black Tape for a Blue Girl reaching back a little more to their roots with more of a neo-classical style on “Forbidden Colours”, though there’s still a lot of the haunting, dark cabaret moods present on this piece. This piece along with Unextraordinary Gentlemen’s “Carriage Driven Horses” and KatzKab’s “My Sad Wishlist” stand out as the most non-traditional of the non-traditional disc, so those looking for the unorthodox definitely have some gems here. While those looking for a bit more of the traditional style while not hearing the same old carols over and over again, we get some real treats here as well. Favorites range the length of the album including Paulina Cassidy’s two contributions “Snow Queen” and “Angels We Have Heard” with her airy, ambient and ethereal style as her vocals become another instrument in the ambient soundscapes mixed with the reverberating layers of electronics, which create in the mind’s eye what the typical sound of angels singing would be like, not 100% there, enough to hear and feel perfectly, but not always able to distinguish them from the wind or other elements.

    Of course, what would a holiday disc be without Unto Ashes? On this disc we get another of their excellent, dark selections in “King of Frost”. This piece drifts from one minor chord to the next, slowly descending through the dark and cold, seemingly bringing on the cold and frost just by listening. A piece that many listeners might be familiar with is “Through the Snowy Trees” from Autumn’s Grey Solace. From past compilations (Excelsis 1, 2 & 3) this piece stands out as the most typical and in my mind, one of the most appreciated and classic ethereal pieces on this disc from Autumn’s Grey Solace. Erin’s siren-like vocals soar across the frosty air, giving life to the lyrics, mixed with the music to form the visions of the frosty, snowy landscape of the north in the winter. Lovespirals appears as well on this disc, and they reach back to more of the classic ethereal styles as well for their piece “Happy Holidays” with Anji’s moody, silky sweet vocals bringing on the feelings of steaming hot cocoa and sugary sweet treats.

    Both discs close with ambient pieces from Forrest Fang and Erik Wollo to bring them softly and dreamily to a close. I think about this album and the artists that presented their music and I think you really have to hand it to them. It takes a lot of talent and creativity to take timeless classics, or even just the timeless classic feeling of Christmas and other holiday music and still come up with something “new”, whether it’s an original piece or a variation on the classic. I think it’s great that Projekt Records remains a great fountain of this great music. A definite “must have” for any collection! Rating: 4/5

  3. Reviews Editor

    From Whiplash
    Lançada em 2012, a nova compilação do lendário selo estadunidense Projekt – especializado em gothic, ambient, ethereal e afins –, traz 23 faixas divididas em dois CDs: o primeiro reúne versões de músicas tradicionais (inclusive uma de origem judaica, “Hanerot Halalu”) interpretadas por nomes como All My Faith Is Lost, Nick Jaine e Mirabilis; o segundo apresenta canções originais que, direta ou indiretamente, estão relacionadas com o Natal, como a releitura do Black Tape For A Blue Girl para “Forbidden Colors”, de Ryuichi Sakamoto e David Sylvian, música tema do filme “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” (aqui conhecido como “Furyo – Em nome da honra”). A despeito dos gêneros aqui abordados, Ornamental não é uma coletânea “dark”, sendo na maior parte do tempo contemplativa e até mesmo bem-humorada em alguns momentos – como em “My Sad Wishlist”, do KatzKab. -Genilson Alves

  4. Reviews Editor

    From Sounds Behind the Corner
    C’è ancora lo spirito di Natale in qualche remoto angolo del mondo, o forse delle persone.
    Quello spirito puro dell’ottocento letterario di Dickens, dell’infanzia in attesa nella notte più speciale dell’anno, del vero gesto d’amore. Natale è una notte d’amore, a volte la musica tenta la celebrazione.
    Oggi vi parlerò dello spirito del Natale più autentico, lontano dai grandi magazzini, dalle carole imbellettate di Bing Crosby, dei lieti fini da cartolina per cine-movie invernali; il Natale che ha voluto in due dischetti Sam Rosenthal, quasi un Willy Wonka (ovviamente nella originale stesura con Gene Wilder…) che oscuro e tenebroso nella sua fabbrica di musica newyorkese, confeziona il suo omaggio al Christmas-time, cinque anni dopo “A Dark Noel”.
    Due dischetti: tradizionale il primo, brani che non tramonteranno mai come “The Little Drummer Boy”, rullate dolorose, un pezzo d’America che risorge grazie alla voce di Nicki Jaine (vocalist di un precedente progetto, Revue Noir assieme a coach Rosenthal) che osa addentrasi, con grande carisma, verso le vette immortalate da Joan Baez negli anni del pacifismo, riprendendo la tradizione del suo Paese, lo stesso coraggio che ancora, come nel precedente brano, gli Ego Likeness con grande effetto marcano sui solchi.
    “What Child Is This?” ora è eterea è dolcissima ballata sussurrata sulle labbra di Donna Lynch.
    Un Natale che potrebbe ancora esserci, carico di materna energia, spontanea come la versione steam di “Jingle Bells” grazie agli Abney Park è paesana e povera, un coro di girovaghi ricchi dentro, ricchi di gioia anche sulla strada, un brano ‘felliniano’…
    Introverso e cinematico Akelon Sain: il partner di Soriah, la voce incantevole (chiudete gli occhi ed immaginate Brendan Perry) dei Trance To The Sun intona la sua ballata, “The Christmas Song (Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)” farcendola d’amore, di miele.
    Importanti le presenze eteree in questo primo dischetto: fragile Viola (sono i Nostri All My Faith Lost …) nel suo intonare “In The Bleak Mindwinter” abbraccia le plettrate di chitarra a loro volta abbracciate dal violoncello; a cappella Ericah Hagle (vocalist di Uno Ashes) e le ritrovate Mirabilis.
    Ora il cuore si apre sul candore della Notte ed ognuno nel proprio brano le singer scavano un piccolo solco nel cuore di tutti noi che le ammiriamo, le voci in Projekt sono sempre protagoniste nei colori, nella personalità, nella singolarità.
    Athan Maroulis, interprete al microfono della reinassance nel nuovo corso Black Tape For A Blue Girl, assieme agli sconosciuti Kohen & Mooney, donano un pizzico irreale di fiabesca bellezza al celeberrimo lied ”Ave Maria” di Schubert, fedele al compositore, migrandola in un regno di fiaba dove la Madonna è regina del Cielo e di tutti gli infanti, senza timore, solo dolcezza.
    Nel secondo dischetto (brani non tradizionali ma ‘linkati’ al Natale) le porte si spalancano con la superba interpretazione di “Forbidden Colours” da parte dei Black Tape Of A Blue Girl, un brano che sbagliandolo potrebbe chiudere la carriera di Sam Rosenthal, ma Sam è un grande musicista ed interprete ed il capolavoro di Sylvian lo trasforma in ipnosi maestosa, un sogno cinematico gravoso nel pianoforte innamorato nel violino, un’apertura d’album che è legittimazione di un artista che può ciò che vuole.
    Come Unto Ashes nel proporre “King Of Frost” tra sottili etnicismi per un gotico ancora fairy, americano in quanto cinematico ed estatico, suoni perfetti di Michael Laird per anime pure, come i Katzenjammer Kabarett che escono dai loro standard per addentrarsi nel pop/no-wave (i Missing Persons sono uno dei tre fantasmi del Natale assieme a Sylvian ed a Joan Baez, anche se indirettamente…): My Sad Wishlist” è briosa e solo velatamente teatrale, potrebbe essere uno stimolo per un nuovo corso fuori dagli schemi.
    Ovviamente non può e non deve mancare il fuoco shoegaze, così ben rappresentato in casa Projekt: “Through The Snowy Trees”, degli Autumn’s Grey Solace, è ripresa dal sampler di cinque anni fa ma ancora le nubi dreamy del brano, la bella voce heavenly di Erin Welton, ammaliano e le stesse nubi si specchiano in Terra nei toni di Suzanne Perry (sono i Lovespiral di tanti successi, manca solo il suffisso Downwords ma sono loro…) con “Happy Holidays”, con il suo ‘lush-sound’ creano aspettative per un nuovo album da tanti desiderato.
    Nel finale la percezione di essere sospesi fuori dal mondo, tra le nevi finlandesi, le aurore boreali, gli abeti verdi e possenti: è il messaggio silente sia di Paulina Cassidy (autrice naif della cover e musicista fatata e fragile) con “Angels We Have Heard” e la doppia traccia finale di Eric Wøllo, “Crystal Bells 1 e 2”, notti gelide fatte per attese di bimbi con il naso schiacciato contro le finestre nella notte di vigilia o di adulti che quel bimbo l’hanno lasciato sopravvivere dentro tra le quotidiane difficoltà della vita adulta.
    Allora basta un cd, doppio in questo caso, e guardando le renne che si allontanano nella notte potremmo dire:

    ‘Merry Christmas, merry Christmas Mr. Rosenthal…’ -Nicola Tenani

  5. Reviews Editor

    From Pirate Satellite
    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you enjoy Christmas music. I love finding and playing holiday music we may not have heard before, (many thanks to Stubbys House Of Christmas) including originals and unique interpretations of classics heard many (many) times. Some titles we’ve tired of. I felt that way about “Jingle Bells” for a long time. All of a sudden there’s three new versions I enjoy and will play between now and Christmas. One is “Steampunk Jingle Bells” by Abney Park, from Ornamental, an all new 2 disc holiday compilation from Projekt Records, out of New York City. Not only does Paulina Cassidy contribute 3 songs, but her magical cover art (image) is my fave of the season. -Bruce Miller

  6. Reviews Editor

    From Ondarock
    A ben cinque anni di distanza da A Dark Noel, si ripete l’appuntamento con Excelsis, la serie dei festeggiamenti natalizi di casa Projekt. Al tempo, la label di Brooklyn produsse una compilation in solo formato digitale a prezzo politico (3 euro) composta da alcune cover delle più celebri canzoni a tema natalizio – memorabile fu l’interpretazione dei Crüxshadows di “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. Dunque, nulla che si discostasse troppo dagli usuali canoni delle raccolte – quelle stesse che, va riconosciuto, hanno contribuito in maniera importante al successo dell’etichetta (Projekt: Gothic, datato 2002, resta ad oggi il loro disco più venduto, con circa trentamila copie sparse in giro per il mondo).

    Anticipato qualche settimana fa con l’ottimo Silver Smoke, Star Of Night della veterana Jill Tracy, Sam Rosenthal organizza quest’anno il suo banchetto affidandone le redini a un’altra diva: Paulina Cassidy, più nota come pittrice e illustratrice che come musicista, con un Ep in procinto di uscita proprio per la Projekt. Il risultato è Ornamental, un autentico spot sull’anno trascorso per gli artisti di quest’ultima, che per la prima volta predilige la celebrazione alla promozione. Divisa in due dischi (uno dedicato alla rivisitazione di tradizionali e uno agli inediti), la raccolta vede la partecipazione di alcuni dei nomi di punta della scena dark-wave, sia legati alla scuderia della label che ad altri brand, assieme ad una manciata di promettenti nuove leve.

    I dipinti firmati Cassidy che compongono l’artwork trasmettono al meglio l’humus del primo disco, “Traditionals”: se l’album di Jill Tracy (di cui un brano è qui incluso) aveva interpretato in chiava macabro-rassegnata il clima natalizio, qui gli animi si dividono equamente tra oscurità, atmosfera e sarcasmo. Esplicativa, a tal proposito, “The Little Drummer Boy”, riletta da Nicki Jaine e i redivivi Ego Likeness: messo da parte il teatro espressionista di “Anthology Archive”, la nuova diva del dark-cabaret si produce in un’alienazione muovendosi nello scarno fondale offerto dagli ex-portabandiera dell’industrial sacrale. A questi ultimi è affidata anche la celeberrima “What Child Is This?”, in un esperimento elettro-ambientale senza troppe pretese, così come spenti sono gli inattesi ritorni di Mirabilis e All My Faith Lost…. La fusione tra ambient e folk è proposta con più successo anche da Forrest Fang in “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, mentre l’emblema del lato “sarcastico” è rappresentato dai boss dello steampunk Abney Park, impegnati in una lettura vicinissima alla tradizione dell’immancabile “Jingle Bells”. Altrettanto “canonico”, ma di tutt’altra bellezza è il solo corale di Ericah Hagle degli Unto Ashes in “Hanerot Halalu”, senza dubbio l’episodio migliore del primo disco assieme a “The Christmas Song (Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)”, liturgia sognante firmata dai promettenti Dorian Fields con la partecipazione dell’ex Trance To The Sun Ashkelon Sain.

    Discorso diverso vale per il secondo disco, intitolato senza troppa fantasia “Non-Traditionals” e indicativo dell’odierna linea artistica della Projekt: si tratta di una raccolta di inediti a tema natalizio, alcuni dei quali risalenti anche a parecchi anni fa e mai pubblicati prima. Un piccolo scrigno pieno di gemme lucenti, come le due ninna-nanne della Cassidy (l’oscura “Snow Queen” e l’eterea “Angels We Have Heard”) e la nostalgica “Happy Holidays” dei Lovespirals (mai così vicini agli originali Love Spirals Downwards). Presenti all’appello anche Autumn’s Grey Solace e Unto Ashes, autori quest’anno dei due migliori dischi Projekt (rispettivamente Divinian e Burials Foretold): i primi riportano in luce il loro lato acustico con un ottimo inedito dei tempi di “Over The Ocean”, mentre i secondi propongono l’onirica “King Of Forest”, esclusa di lusso dell’ultimo lavoro.

    A sorprendere più di tutti sono però i tre nomi nuovi e il ritorno, a sorpresa, del più “vecchio” del lotto. I KatzKab si fanno portabandiera in “My Sad Whishlist” di un cyber-punk ben più lusinghiero di quello offerto da Android Lust; i My Last Duchess abbracciano classicismo e romanticismo in “Cradle Song”, grazie anche alla splendida voce “lirica” di Tracy Wise; gli Unextraordinary Gentlemen, più ancora dei precedenti, spiazzano mescolando in “Carriage Driven Horses” Voltaire, Soft Moon, Dresden Dolls, steampunk e Scott Walker, facendo salire l’attesa per l’Ep – in uscita fra qualche mese – che segnerà il loro debutto. Infine, un altro grande risultato – sul quale pesa sicuramente una sconfinata dose d’affetto – non può non arrivare dall’improbabile e graditissimo ritorno dei Black Tape For A Blue Girl in formazione ridotta a tre (Rosenthal-Unwoman-Maroulis), con un’eccezionale cover di “Forbidden Colours” della coppia Sylvian/Sakamoto, che non può che promettere benissimo per un eventuale, futuro nuovo disco del progetto. La svolta di “10 Neurotics” è lontana anni luce, tanto che il brano avrebbe potuto essere tranquillamente incluso in “The Scavenger Bride”, contribuendo esclusivamente ad accrescere il suo già enorme fascino.

    Nei sogni guidati da synth e chitarra delle due “Crystal Bells” – riprove della peculiarità sonora del veterano dell’ambient elettronico Erik Wøllo – cala il sipario sul 2012 in casa Projekt. Un anno che ha visto la label mantenersi su livelli elevatissimi, come avviene ormai da almeno una ventina d’anni a questa parte, con i già citati exploit di alcuni dei suoi nomi più importanti e il lancio di nuove realtà pronte ad un futuro assicurato (Adrian H And The Wounds, Deadfly Ensemble e Radiana su tutte). Ornamental conclude al meglio, regalando un’ottima sintesi a chi si fosse perso qualcosa o volesse approcciarsi all’attuale universo sonoro dell’etichetta, e un’invidiabile collezione di rarità imperdibile per qualsiasi completista.

    Buon Natale a tutti, firmato Sam Rosenthal. Rating: 7.5 (very good) -Matteo Meda

  7. Reviews Editor

    From Darkroom
    Ai lettori più avidi del nostro modesto ma appassionato spazio telematico il nome della Projekt non è mai passato inosservato. Non solo per l’encomiabile qualità delle uscite, ma anche per le sua attiva propensione a riproporre periodicamente in svariate antologie la storia dell’etichetta stessa, tramite contributi sempre venduti in offerta speciale, in eleganti formati collezionabili. Qualcuno può anche definire tali mosse piuttosto ridondanti, in particolare quando le tracklist di queste raccolte preferiscono offrire una trattazione riassuntiva della label stessa piuttosto che materiale inedito, ma si possono subito far crollare simili accuse se si considera che la mente Sam Rosenthal non ha mai finalizzato questo tipo di compendi a scopo di lucro. Sono stati spesso presentati sul mercato come un mero approfondimento venduto in offerta, godibile se si considera il rapporto qualità/prezzo. Altre volte, e si tratta di quei casi in cui la Projekt mette insieme compilation concettuali vincenti, se ne serve come occasione celebrativa, che rende questi dischi veri pezzi da collezione che non devono venire a mancare agli amanti delle sonorità della casa discografica statunitense. È il caso di questo nuovo doppio CD, uscito lo scorso dicembre in simultanea con l’ultimo lavoro di Jill Tracy (già promosso tra le nostre pagine), e ispirato alle atmosfere del periodo pre-natalizio.

    Una compilation confezionata in uno splendido doppio digifile, contenente più di venti brani inediti interpretati dagli artisti di punta della label. Interpretati, perché Ornamental ripropone in due sezioni (brani tradizionali e ispirati) tutte le melodie più illustri del Natale stesso, in tutte le sue forme. Un non-britannico forse avrebbe qualche difficoltà a riconoscere ogni singola canzone, visto che la lista include solo composizioni anglosassoni, ma la veste in cui vengono ripresentate dagli artisti non può lasciare indifferenti. Oltre ad episodi d’avanguardia come la “Steampunk Jingle Bells” degli Abney Park o la carezzevole “Ave Maria” di Maroulis, Kohen and Mooney, ci dilettano un po’ tutte le tracce. Le visioni eteree di Autumn’s Grey Solace (“Through The Snowy Trees”), l’oscura “My Sad Wishlist” firmata KatzKab, le venature wave e danceble di Unextraordinary Gentlemen (“Carriage Driven Horses”) e Lovespirals (“Happy Holidays”), i nostrani All My Faith Lost… con “In The Bleak Midwinter” o i contributi ambient e cosmici di Erik Wøllo e Forrest Fang (rispettivamente con due versioni per ciascuno di “Crystal Bells” e “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”).

    Immancabili i Black Tape For A Blue Girl, presenti con una viscerale versione di “Forbidden Colours” (tratta dalla colonna sonora di “Furyo” di Nagisa Oshima, in originale “Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence”, per l’appunto). Non è propriamente un lavoro ‘ornamentale’ da abbandonare alla polvere sullo scaffale, ma uno splendido excursus sul lato meno oscuro (ma sta all’ascoltatore deciderlo) della musica popolare, servito con la solita ed ineccepibile grazia. Un artwork commovente (firmato da Paulina Cassidy, presente anche con due brani) chiude il cerchio. Venduto singolarmente a 14 dollari, ma a soli 6 in più se ordinato assieme all’ultima fatica di Jill Tracy, su sonorità affini. L’ennesimo piccolo grande passo non di una comune label, ma di un vero e proprio movimento culturale di alta classe. -Max Firinu

  8. Reviews Editor

    From Blurt Online
    Projekt Records, America’s premier gothic music label, spreads Christmas cheer in its own way with Ornamental, a two-disk set of new and obscure recordings. As Projekt leans more toward the ethereal side of the goth arena, instead of the creepy, the fairly traditional readings of “Wexford Carol,” “Hanerot Halalu” and “The Little Drummer Boy,” by Mirabilis, Ericah Hagle and Nicki Jaine respectively, aren’t much of a stretch.

    Pretty as those are, though, it’s the tracks that wander further into the snow that satisfy most: Autumn’s Grey Solace’s dreampopping “Through the Snowy Trees,” Unto Ashes’ ghostly “King of Frost,” Paulina Cassidy’s shimmering “Frosty the Snowman,” Abney Park’s mischievous “Steampunk Jingle Bells,” KatzKab’s amusing “My Sad Wishlist.” Ornamental is lovely enough to listen to all year ‘round. Rating: 7 -Michael Toland

  9. Reviews Editor

    From Bliss Aquamarine
    A double CD of seasonal holiday music performed by an assortment of Projekt artists and like-minded guests. There are lots of new takes on Christmas carols, secular winter songs like Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells, and the Hanukkah song Hanerot Halalu, along with new compositions with a winter theme. Being out on Projekt, you can trust the artists to put their own distinctive stamp on the old standards.

    Paulina Cassidy’s version of Frosty the Snowman eradicates any trace of corniness by reinventing it as a slightly dark synthpop number with spacey, psychedelic undercurrents. Jill Tracy’s Coventry Carol sets husky, sultry vocals to a sophisticated piano, string and drum arrangement. It’s a work of great beauty, and makes me curious to hear more of Jill Tracy’s own work. Abney Park do a steampunk version of Jingle Bells. It’s dramatic and eccentric and includes instruments like fiddle and ukulele. Nicki Jaine with Ego Likeness perform an elegant, sophisticated version of Little Drummer Boy, which is really quite astounding. Ashkelon Sain with The Dorian Fields transform Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire into an atmospheric blend of ambient, gothic and shoegaze, which lasts for over 8 minutes. Maroulis, Koehn and Mooney provide a dark, neoclassical interpretation of Schubert’s Ave Maria. Ego Likeness return for What Child Is This?, a Christmas carol with the same tune as Greensleeves, set to a minimalistic and evocative synth backdrop. Ericah Hagle of Unto Ashes provides a multi-textured vocal version of Hanerot Halalu. Mirabilis’ Wexford Carol is a beautiful choral piece based on multiple female vocals. Forrest Fang provides an astonishing psychedelic reinterpretation of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, which comprises aspects of ambient, world music and spacerock. This is followed by an ambient remix of the same track, which is pretty much unrecognisable as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but is a calming and atmospheric listen nonetheless.

    Disc 2 is comprised of non-traditional pieces. Black Tape for a Blue Girl appear with a gothic/neoclassical version of Forbidden Colours, the theme from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence. Paulina Cassidy appears next with the second of three tracks she contributes to this compilation, the eerie yet beautiful, classical-tinged piece Snow Queen. Unto Ashes contribute an excellent neofolk track with medieval hints, King of Frost, which is of a similarly high standard to their usual material. KatzKab’s My Sad Wishlist is a kind of off-centre powerpop with synths and pizzicato violins. Unextraordinary Gentlemen’s Carriage Driven Horses is like 80s alt-rock with additional strings and piano. Autumn’s Grey Solace’s Through the Snowy Trees is superb dreampop that is no less impressive than the material on their albums. Paulina Cassidy’s Angels We Have Heard is an otherworldly, atmospheric piece combining aspects of ambient, experimental and classical music. Finally, Erik Wøllo contributes a two-part instrumental entitled Crystal Bells. The first part is sophisticated synth and guitar music with elements of ambient, movie soundtrack, and a smidgen of New Age, but without the insipid connotations of that last genre. The second part is a chillingly atmospheric experimental piece; if ice and frost had a sound, it would sound like this.

    Don’t be put off by the fact that the compilation is themed around winter, and in the most part, specifically Christmas. Much of the music can be enjoyed at any time. It’s also refreshingly free from the gimmickry and commercialism one may expect from a winter holiday compilation. Well worth checking out.

  10. Reviews Editor

    From Mick Mercer
    As much a part of the Christmas festivities and traditions around the Mercer ears as the rustle of the Christmas tree is the Projekt Excelsis box set, all three CDs destined for a languid run-through several times during the holiday. Now there’s a new addition! At this rate by the time I’m ninety there won’t be enough time to do anything because I’ll be constantly grappling with CDs the whole time and so there’s a warning for you about humanity’s future that nobody has yet dare suggest.

    Everything on here is brand new too, which is a delightful bonus, the 2 CDs split into Traditional and Not, Paulina Cassidy: kicking off with a deftly downcast ‘Frosty the Snowman, all breathy and whisking with frisky whispers and tinkling charm. Jill Tracy delves into some muted historical overtones for a lightly funereal ‘Coventry Carol’, while a saucily cavorting Abney Park thrust ‘Steampunk Jingle Bells’ out with an easy vivacity, which is great fun, warming the coggles of your heart.

    Nicki Jaine sounds a trifle mad as she oozes across Ego Likeness in ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ but things return to a restful state with Ashkelon Sain and The Dorian Fields crisp and spindly during ‘The Christmas Song’, toasting their knackers before an open fire presumably as there’ so lost in their balmy ambient memories the tune takes ages to protrude politely through the overall ether, the vocals something of a rude intrusion, like a drunken Bing Crosby staggering out of a pub. Although these vocals aren’t a stunning success the music is deliciously enveloping. All My Faith Lost … cunningly disguise ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ which I certainly didn’t recognise which sounds, instead, like one of the songs used to indicate heartbreak during Buffy on tv. Strangely beautiful, and I do mean strangely.

    Maroulis, Koehn and Mooney unite for ‘Ave Maria’ bringing a ghostly touch with seeping vocal flourishes, and a sweet sense of trepidation. Ego Likeness’ equally delightful ‘What Child Is This?’ starts off sounding like Kate Bush singing ‘Greensleeves’! (I’m assuming the songs share identical structure, or I’m definitely going senile.) It ends very churchy, which was nice. Ericah Hagle takes a similarly delicate approach for ‘Hanerot Halalu’ so it’s as much lilting as it is haunting, a ravishing combination. Mirabilis are a trifle too bright initially for me to sink into ‘Wexford Carol’ but they get there by the end, whereupon side one ends with two inexplicable versions of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ by Forrest Fang, the second a supposed ambient remix but both are shadowy orchestral encounters that seem to have no bearing on the original yet fill the air with a quiet enchantment.

    Side two opens with a cover by Black Tape for a Blue Girl of ‘Forbidden Colors, the crinkly theme from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, replete with plonky keys and a sanguine broodiness. The wooziness is winsome with Paulina Cassidy’s ‘Snow Queen’, vocal particles blown leisurely across glacial keys. It’s hard to work out why that ended when it did but the more agile tangles of Unto Ashes’ ‘King of Frost’ are easier to follow, spiralling into control. Exquisite vocals decorate the mellow dusty undercarriage as this noble and very special offering takes flight.

    KatzKab do the least expected thing but unfurling creakily demented pop with ‘My Sad Wishlist’, which is brilliant and punkily inspired. Unextraordinary Gentlemen oscillate silkily over undulating bass in the ‘Carriage Driven Horses’, billowing grandly with taut percussive twinges. No idea what the festive link is, it has to be said, but that doesn’t matter. Autumn’s Grey Solace offer more celestial flossiness in ‘Through the Snowy Trees’ reminding me oddly of the Cocteaus. Lovespirals are all balm throughout the linear lustre of ‘Happy Holidays’ then My Last Duchess bewitch in a modestly opulent ‘Cradle Song’, gorgeous vocals spun around a dwindling, revolving dream.

    Paulina Cassidy reappears for the tinkling slivers of ‘Angels We Have Heard’ before we close with two versions of a quietly infectious then otherworldly ‘Crystal Bells’ by Erik Wøllo so that each record has a dignified sense of finality and occasion.

    Ornamental manages to mix the old and expect elements with a clean modern feel, each record existing as a distinct and enthralling entity, making the combination all the more desirable and destined to offer a pool of sound unto which to dip happily for years to come. Gawd bless them, every one.

  11. Reviews Editor

    From Music Tap
    The Projekt label is no stranger to traditional and non-traditional holidays songs. Not only is the label rich in holiday releases, they provide them in album series of unique interpretations. In fact, so enamored am I of the Excelsis series, that I can’t imagine several holiday classics without first hearing them (in my head) as they are heard on the Excelsis series.

    Without hesitation, I can say that Siddal’s version of “In The Bleak Midwinter” is the best one version of that song I’ve heard. I’m also quite pleased with Area’s grand interpretation of “O Come Emmanuel”, and “Carol of The Bells” as reimagined by This Ascension.

    In the new collected set by Projekt Records, there are two separate CDs. The first holds twelve traditional tracks with some excellent interpretations that include “The Little Drummer Boy”, a different kind of carol as sung by new cabaret voice, Nicki Jaine with Ego Likeness, who contributes a fascinating “What Child Is This?”.

    Ashkelon Sain with The Dorian Fields supply a new take on the entrenched classic “The Christmas Song” with wonderful results. I’m intrigued by the version of “In The Bleak Midwinter”, found here as recorded by All My Faith Lost. (While good, I still go back to the previously mentioned version by Siddal.)

    The second disc begins the non-traditional set with music from Black Tape for a Blue Girl (a beautifully poignant “Forbidden Colours”, from Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence), several perfect Paula Cassidy tunes (“Snow Queen”, “Angels We Have Heard”. She also does a memorable “Frosty The Snowman” on the Traditionals disc.)

    The engaging Lovespirals performs a stunningly beautiful “Happy Holidays”. Ambient artist, Erik WØllo provides two tracks to close the second disc, “Crystal Bells 1”, and “Crystal Bells 2″.

    With 23 tracks, this latest in the Projekt Records holidays series is an absolute must have, as are the three Excelsis series sets. The literal wealth of music found in these sets are part interesting variations, and part essential gems that are hauntingly memorable. With all this great holidays music, you might not have to dip into any of your other classics that you love so well.

    Ornamental is highly satisfying. -Matt Rowe

  12. Reviews Editor

    From the Echoes Radio Blog

    It’s Christmas. Projekt Gets Ornamental.

    I just got in my first Christmas album of the season and the tree-topper has been set high with Ornamental, a collection from the Projekt label. Best known for their dark ambient and Goth recordings, as well as great electronic releases from Steve Roach and Erik Wollo, this is their latest incursion on holiday music. They had previously released a series called Excelsi, of which the first, A Dark Noel, remains among the most distinctive and haunting seasonal albums ever. With Ornamental, Projekt expands their seasonal pallet in a double CD that ranges from electronica to goth, space music to shoegaze, medieval to mystical.

    It launches with the corniest Christmas tune possible, “Frosty the Snowman,” but Paulina Cassidy turns it into snow shrouded electronica dream. It makes a perfect entry into the vertiginous holiday soundscape of Ornamental, although she’s a little less successful on her other two entries.

    There are a lot of post-Cocteau Twins shoegazer ruminations on the album. Autumn’s Grey Solace swirls sparkling snow flurries around “Through the Snowy Trees” and Ashkelon Sain & the Dorian Fields turn “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” into a moody My Bloody Valentine-like ode to a bleak winter. Unto Ashes delivers their post-Cocteau Twin’s sound upon “King of Frost” sounding like medieval shoegaze troubadours. Lovespirals, who had a couple of my favorite Excelsis songs, (“Welcome Christmas” in their Love Spirals Downwards edition and “Aspen Glow” as Lovespirals) return with another evocative seasonal song, an original called “Happy Holidays” featuring Anji Bee, who sings it with sophisticated élan, like she’s casting knowing glances over her shoulder against Ryan Lum’s chiming guitars.

    The two discs of Ornamental are divided into the “Traditionals” and the “Non-Traditionals.” The Non-Traditional disc opens with a song from the score of the ultimate Christmas album for hipsters, the “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” soundtrack. But Ornamental goes deeper than the oft-covered title track and play “Forbidden Colours,” composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian. Black Tape for a Blue Girl, the band headed by Projekt label head Sam Rosenthal, delivers it with their usual funereal, vampire dirge.

    Some don’t make it. Maroulis, Koehn and Mooney’s “Ave Maria” is ponderous gothic chant; Ego Likeness’ “What Child Is this” is clichéd goth spookiness; and The Last Duchess’s “Cradle Song” is a lot of echo and reverb signifying nothing. But there’s also the contrast of All My Faith’s Lost delicate, folk reading of “In the Bleak Midwinter” with KatzKab who take “My Sad Wishlist” on a girl-group romp somewhere between the Shangri-Las and The Waitresses.

    Norwegian synth-guitarist Erik Wøllo pretty much drips icicles on almost anything he’s recorded over the last 3 decades. Whenever he comes through Echoes, we always try to get a seasonal set out of him and he graciously obliges. He does it here with a pair of sparkling “Crystal Bells” that close Ornamental in a meditative fashion.

    I’ve been begging for musicians to create a different kind of seasonal music besides the rote rendering of the same 25 or so holiday chestnuts over-roasted on an open fire. Projekt has been fulfilling that since 1995 with Excelsis. Ornamental takes them in a slightly less gothic and doom-laden mode and makes it a likely pick for the best seasonal CD of 2012, if your tastes in seasonal music heads towards the abyss. -John Diliberto

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