“There is something that is underrepresented in Christmas music, and that’s just how uncomfortable the holidays can be for a lot of folks,” David Bazan says about his collection of holiday songs Dark Sacred Night. Back in 2002, David Dickenson of Suicide Squeeze Records approached Bazan and asked if he would be interested in doing a 7” of Christmas carols. The result was the “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” b/w “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” single released under Bazan’s Pedro The Lion moniker. He followed it up with “The First Noel” 7” in 2003 and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in 2005. Even after retiring the Pedro The Lion project, Bazan continued his run of Yuletide singles for Suicide Squeeze under his own name. These limited edition 7”s are all long out of print, but David Bazan and Suicide Squeeze have chosen ten of the fourteen tracks, remixed and remastered the material, and collected them on Dark Sacred Night.
“It seemed like an interesting challenge. As a musician, my relationship with Christmas and its music is pretty strange,” Bazan says of the impetus behind the series. “It’s the normal band dude relationship with that stuff,” he says, addressing the general disdain fringe musicians feel for old cheery classics, “but then also throw in Christianity and all that shit… my discomfort seemed appropriate for the material. I’m bringing up a lot of hard things in terms of religion, family, commercialism gone mad.” And indeed, the festive aspect of the holidays is noticeably absent on Dark Sacred Night. Instead, Bazan focuses more on meditative classics (“Silent Night”, “Away In A Manger”), somber modern holiday songs (“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, “Long Way Around The Sea”), and, in the case of “Wish My Kids Were Here”, ruminative originals. But throughout the ten tracks, Bazan’s plaintive baritone voice and sparse instrumentation tie the multiple generations and songwriting approaches of these holiday songs into one cohesive melancholic sound.
Dark Sacred Night may be a bitter cup to the masses that wish to bask in the unbridled optimism of Christmas, but it’s the perfect concoction for people who want to acknowledge the holidays without deluding themselves with jubilant traditionalism. “It’s not going to be for everybody, or hardly anybody,” Bazan says with a self-deprecating chuckle. “Hopefully there will be a growing collection of holiday music for depressive weirdos who want to sit and process their feelings about Christmas and reflect on the good and the bad and the past and all the stuff that’s mixed together in the crazy cocktail that is the holiday season.” Suicide Squeeze is proud to offer Dark Sacred Night on limited edition vinyl (2000 copies on blue-and- white-snow colored vinyl) and digital outlets. This marks the first time these songs will be available digitally. The vinyl editions also include download codes. Dark Sacred Night is available November 11, 2016.