Epic Carols is a Christmas electronica extravaganza! It is all about exploring the process of applying cutting-edge technology to translate ancient carols into a fresh experience for our time.
The album features an eclectic and sophisticated collection of carols dating from the middle-ages to the mid-1800s, and even a Sinatra classic for good measure. It includes popular favorites as well as some lesser known pieces that merit a comeback.
The sound is aggressively electronic. Synth melodies soar above pulsating beats and rhythmic arpeggios. Milocraft uses the latest techniques to create breathtaking digital textures that dance between beautifully colored tones and abrasive glitched-out stutters. The atmospheric melodies have a progressive flow and an imaginative intensity that give new life to this deserving genre.
Picture yourself grooving to these tunes in your car while buzzing around town to do your last minute Christmas shopping. Play it on your stereo while you kick back in front of the fire and enjoy some hot cocoa. Put on some beefy headphones and bask in the holiday vibes. If you have little kids, crank it and watch them dance!
Milocraft is the stage name of Miles Germer. A consummate musician and artist, Miles has been making digital music for twenty five years. As a teenager Miles hijacked his father's Ensonique ASR 10 sampling keyboard at night to crank out his own compositions. From there Miles has followed electronic music and worked on personal projects throughout the years. Epic Carols is the culmination of years of preparation, planning, savings, learning, and practice. Music is Miles' passion and it shows. His countless hours banging on his MIDI keyboard, tweaking knobs, and pushing pixels have produced this epic album!
Stephanie Mason, the featured vocalist, sings on four songs. Stephanie has been singing for almost 30 years. At seventeen Stephanie sang with the Seattle Opera for their performances of Mozart's "The Magic Flute". She also sang with the St. James Cathedral Choir "Opus 7" on a tour of Barcelona, Spain. Her contribution to the album is priceless.
Treat yourself to a new musical experience this holiday season, and have a very Epic Christmas!
***The Artist's Notes***
Hi everyone, this is Milocraft here.
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
This was the first Christmas song I worked on. I was so pleased with my initial results that I decided to create an entire album devoted to Christmas carols. I really love the Asian guitar sound that peeks out from the beat. It adds an international flair that really fits this beautiful tune. The lyrics of this song carry a great message which I am happy to spread throughout the world.
2. The Christmas Waltz
As a child I remember singing along with the Carpenters Christmas album and this was one of my favorite songs so I had to include it. When I was young my father bought an electric piano to compose and arrange music with. The sound of that piano was a pure tone with a beautiful simplicity. As I searched for instruments for this song I stumbled across a sound just like the electric piano and I realized this would become the beginning of the song. It starts out simple and opens into a deep, embracing, and complex sound. I tried to make the song bounce while respecting the relaxed and nostalgic sentiment. I really love the raw sound of the last notes of the song.
3. We Three Kings
In my mind I picture three wise men swaying to the beat while riding camels across a great desert. The composition is very edgy and full of deep beats. I particularly enjoy the chorus; Stephanie Mason sounds angelic. I admit to some self indulgence on the length, but I just couldn’t cut any of those groovy treatments. I also get a kick out of a few things: the mumbling old man sound (picture these guys singing that), and the “chorus alert” sound which reminds me of the opening notes of the Strange Brew hockey theme. So get your 3KINGS on and groove like you own that camel!
4. Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy (Nutcracker Suite)
The original composition of this song is amazing on so many levels. I had to include it because the stilted melody and upbeat mood fit this style so naturally. I would love to see a dance company perform to this rendition. I am particularly pleased with the 60’s style James Bond guitar sound, the tinkling melodies, and the abrasively electronic slide to the top near the end. In addition, I’m surprised I could create a counterpoint melody that works so beautifully with the original. I experimented with it for a while until the vibe started to click. In the end I think it works beautifully.
5. Coventry Carol
This song is a dark, gothic melody about the infamous “massacre of the innocents” where King Herod commanded his armies to kill all male infants of 2 years or less. The forlorn mothers of the slain children sing a mournful lullaby to their missing babes. The song hails from the 1500s and has been passed down through the centuries. I picture veiled women singing it in an ancient cathedral. I treated it as a dark lullaby with an aggressive and slightly angry bass and beat combination. The contrast of Stephanie Mason's beautiful voice with the hard hitting instruments creates a fitting result for such an awful massacre. In case you are not familiar with it you can read it in Matthew 2:16-18 in the New Testament.
"16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,
18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."
6. Concerto Grosso In B Flat Major, Op. 6/7 Part II
This song was written by Handel, the same composer as the “Messiah” which features the "Hallelujah" chorus. The same grand and sweeping arcs of epic proportions grace this tune. I discovered it one day while napping with Pandora streaming classical music in the background. In my subconscious mind I felt the beauty and grandeur of this piece so much that I forced myself to wake up and note the title. The next day I started on it and had a basic framework of the song within hours. While this is not a traditional Christmas song, I think the emotions it evokes are very true to the holiday. See if you agree. I am pleased that my rendition feels organic, despite the electronic approach. I really enjoy the simple and graceful melodies and counterpoints by the different instruments. It can really captivate you if you listen intently.
7. Carol Of The Bells
Who could make an electronic Christmas album without this song? Nobody, that’s who! This rendition kicks off with a pretty intense opening and then settles down for a hypnotic and mesmerizing groove. Every time I listen to it I feel entranced by the beats of the second half.
8. Hark The Herald Angels Sing/Auld Lang Syne (A Tribute to ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’)
My family, along with many of you, has a tradition of watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ every Christmas Eve. As a kid I didn’t quite understand the attraction to this movie, but as I matured my eyes opened to the wisdom and beauty as it tells the story of the personal sacrifice of one man for the good of his fellow men. It celebrates the importance of love and dedication in a marriage, the importance of family and children, the treasure of devoted friends, the results of being a good neighbor, and the personal cost and blessings of selfless service. It also portrays a Heavenly Father who is intimately aware of each of his children’s challenges and is actively engaged in helping them. A guardian angel is sent to help George Baily through a difficult episode, and by so doing, earns his “wings.” The closing scene is the hallmark of the movie as George Baily’s friends and family gather in his home and sing two songs. First they sing the traditional carol, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, a nod to Clarence, George’s personal guardian angel. Then they sing “Auld Lang Syne” which goes: “Should auld (old) acquaintance be forgot and ne’er brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot for auld lang syne (loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times"). I love to remember those who have made a difference throughout my life and that is the subject of this song. It is about remembering and celebrating your loved ones. It is about remembering “the good ol’ days.” In the final moments little “Zuzu” says the classic refrain “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings”. I do believe in angels, and while I do not believe they have real wings, I think of the “wings” as a metaphor for spiritual power. I definitely believe spirits can progress and continue growing after this life, especially when they serve others as Clarence does so selflessly in this story. And yes, this recording features my cute kids Finn and Lilly, with additional help from the Williams family.
9. O Holy Night
This is my favorite Christmas carol, and this recording features Stephanie Mason’s incredible singing talent. Her voice is so angelic that it really carries the song. I kept the accompaniment low key to let her shine. I really like the muted organ sound because it is very peaceful and it carries a happy tune. Sure it is a holy night, but I think it is a happy holy night.
10. Silent Night
This is "the mother" of all Christmas carols and I knew I needed to bring something special to it. I think the opening bass sound is the hook that makes this arrangement interesting. At first it may sound “wrong” for the song, but as it develops, it blends into a magnificent texture. As the song ends, the bass theme calls out, and you realize it was the right sound all along.
Thanks for reading my notes on these songs. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Merry Christmas!
A very special thanks to these EPIC BACKERS who made this album possible by financially supporting this project at Kickstarter.com! Russell Germer, Rita Germer , Eric Jorgensen Jon Vincent, Ritu Vincent, Brian Peterson, Rhett Germer, Laura Hauck, Frank Laughlin, Jeremy Young, Becky Jackson, Ian Kellar, Brandy Stone, Robert Johnson, Eric Bowley
To Amy, my loving wife and beautiful muse. To Addy, Finn, and Lilly, my children who will never forget our tall Christmas trees. To Russ and Rita, my musical parents who taught me everything about music. To Lorraine, Wyatt, Austin, Nick, and Rhett, my devoted brothers and sister, I’ll never forget running down the stairs on Christmas morning with you. To Lulu & Tucker, my favorite pets.
To our Heavenly Father for sending his son Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season!
To Stephanie Mason for her beautiful voice and faith in the project. Also to Joshua Mason, Stephanie’s husband and my fellow hockey teammate. He is a true Christmas music aficionado!
To my brother Wyatt Germer for my marketing video and a selfless day of his life. Also to his beautiful wife Annette Germer for holding down the fort so Wyatt could help me.
To my bestest friends Brian and Claire Peterson for putting us up at the Peterson Hotel. In addition to providing fresh sheets and linens, they provide fresh basement floors, new and shiny every visit!
To my good friend Brandy Stone for my incredible portrait photography. Also to her husband and my friend Daniel Stone for wrangling the kids during the shoot.
To Andrea Kellerman, Jon & Ritu Vincent, Tim & Kirse May, Josh Guttormsen, Vinnie Politan & Christopher Pettigrew & the crew at HLN Network, and the Rex & Sarah Williams family.
To Family, Friends, Neighbors, Caroling, Christmas Trees, The Chipmunks, Snow, and Eggnog!
To all my epic fans around the world! You know who you are! ;)
Favorite Christmas Carols and Scriptures
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born; O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2: 7-14)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. (3 Nephi 11:10-11)
All instrumental arrangement and performance by Miles Germer. Produced, Engineered, and Mixed by Miles Germer in Seattle WA, USA. Track 1. Vocals by Miles Germer. Tracks 3., 5. , 9. Vocals by Stephanie Mason. Track 8. Vocals by Stephanie Mason, Germer Family (Miles, Amy, Finn, Lilly), Williams Family (Rex, Adee, Sadie, Sydney, Bodie) Andrea Kellerman. Graphics and Layout by Miles Germer
Credits - Original Composition and Lyrics
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, 1760 w. m. English Traditional Carol. 2. The Christmas Waltz, 1954 w. m. Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne. 3. We Three Kings, 1857 w. m. John H. Hopkins, Jr.. 4. Dance of the Sugar Plum Faeries (Nutcracker Suite), 1892 m. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 5. Coventry Carol, 1500s w. m. English Traditional Carol. 6. Concerto Grosso In B Flat Major, Op. 6/7 Part II, 1741 m. George Frideric Handel. 7. Carol of the Bells, 1904 m. Mykola Leontovych. 8. Hark The Herald Angels Sing, 1739 w. m. Charles Wesley/Auld Lang Syne, 1788 w. Robert Burns, m. Roud # 6294. 9. O Holy Night, 1847 w. French Placide Clappeau, English translation John S. Dwight, m. Adolphe C. Adam. 10. Silent Night, 1818 w. German Joseph Mohr, 1859 English translation. John Young, m. Franz X. Gruber