Pepper Mill Rondo – It’s Christmas Time!

To be released on cassette with Christmas card and digitally on 12/11/19. C74 – White shell with black imprints – ferric stock. 2-sided 4-panel J-card with artwork by Pepper Mill Rondo. This is the catalog page with album information and artwork. To view the store page, click here.

HausMo honchos Doug Kaplan and Maxwell Allison record under the name Pepper Mill Rondo. Envisioned as an internet era mutation of the McCartney/Lennon songwriting partnership, their music takes the form of solo tracks, improvised duo recordings, and processed karaoke performances. It’s Christmas Time! – their second album after 2018’s E.D.M. (HAUSMO 69) – finds the duo taking the idea of the Christmas album to some illogical endpoint, warping and stacking thousands of samples into teeming spreads of tongue-in-cheek plunderphonic disfiguration. Their seventy-minute program of mind-melting holiday chaos lays out an omnivorous network of samples from various eras, media platforms, and cultures, mining the depths of any Christmas content they could click their mouses on. The album sidesteps the religious implications of Christmas to hone in on the goofiness and the sentimentality at the core of the season, frosted with the frankincense residue of all the recurring tropes and traditions that have ingrained themselves into society in the modern era: Santa Claus, Christmas carols, beloved holiday mascots, abject commercialism, political grandstanding, and pop music attempts at the Christmas charts. Like a forgotten box of ornaments in the attic, samples collide in constantly shifting, layered networks of arrhythmic holiday hilarity, blasted with jackhammering loops and pitch-shifted fragments of voice. Pepper Mill Rondo demonstrate that even the holliest and jolliest of material can be folded into their maniacal, time-dilating sessions. With its madcap processes of collage and improvised electronic processing, It’s Christmas Time! could land as a damaged plunderphonic glitch album if it were built from non-holiday music. Instead, the constant presence of melted Yuletide-related text and music ensure that the listener will keep on dreaming of a White Christmas.

Pepper Mill Rondo drew inspiration from a stable of mind-expanding Christmas anomalies like The Residents’ very first recording “Santa Dog,” the catalog of Mannheim Steamroller, and inadvertently horrific children’s music like Jingle Babies, Jingle Cats, and Jingle Dogs (which each re-construct Christmas melodies from the wordless sampled sounds of their titular source). The spirit of these works that use Christmas themes as a jumping point for bizarre or experimental ends flows through It’s Christmas Time! in the album’s deranged ambition and its commitment to interface only with the basest quadrants of its listeners’ lizard brains. For their improvised duo tracks, Pepper Mill Rondo set their samples to “maximum sensory overload” as they pound out densely packed sessions where contrasting feeds headbutt each other and randomly sketch out spastic rhythms in the din. For the album’s karaoke tracks, Kaplan reprogrammed MIDI files of Christmas carols using sound fonts from a number of Nintendo games like Banjo Kazooie, Chrono Trigger, and Animal Crossing. Over these mutated backdrops that pulse with pitched percussion instruments and synthesized animal sounds, Kaplan and Allison sing carols in unison and process their voices in real time with effects pedals. Kaplan’s solo tracks focus primarily on collaging and juxtaposing the text and incidental audio from an arsenal of YouTube videos, with segments ranging from home movies to Fox News broadcasts to read-aloud displays of Christmas vocab. Allison’s solo tracks scramble individual Christmas tunes from slightly off the beaten path into jittering mosaics of staccato bursts and rapidly panned audio mush. Taken all together, the various methods of creation and sample repurposing present on It’s Christmas Time! lay out a vision of the holiday season as fodder for art-making in all its absurdity and ho ho hardcore deconstruction. Merry Christmas from Pepper☃️Mill🎄Rondo🌟.