‘hOMe’ a welcomed
crisp, progressive
holiday mix

"hOMe for the Holidays"
Various artists
Om Records

Already merited for its daring and vision, San Francisco electronic imprint Om Records takes a bold step in releasing its first collection of high-tech, groove-laden Christmas tunes. What might be a quaint holiday gesture for most record companies becomes a gamble for an independent maverick like Om, which, through a stable of deviceful knob-twiddling, fader-flicking composers, has forged a reputation as a tastefully adventurous, cutting-edge label. Putting out an album containing little more than sappy Christmas retreads could spell embarrassment for such a well-regarded outfit.

Credit Om's musicians, then, for reinventing the holiday carol and assembling what may very well be the most engaging and progressive holiday compilation of the year in "hOMe for the Holidays." Kaskade's "Peace on Earth," a chilled-out downtempo number, sets the tone for the album with tight, crisp beats; languid, atmospheric grooves; and breathy, soulful descanting.

Even when sparse and melancholic, as with Late Night Alumni's gossamer "Songs of the Morning" and a surprisingly elegant rendition of "Winter Wonderland" by Sutro Heights, "hOMe for the Holidays" remains an intriguing listen.

Tracks like Colossus' "Charlie Brown Cut Up" (propelled by snippets of a Charlie Brown cartoon soundtrack), "Christmas Eve" by Members Only and Casey Nefcy's "Psyonics Night" tend to lose their luster halfway through, though the record as a whole makes the perfect sonic backdrop to your next hip holiday get-together. And while it's true most Om artists will not ring familiar with those unacquainted the electronic genre, simply uttering names like J Boogie, Kaskade and King Kooba when friends ask of the source of the blissful melody-making will boost your cool quotient a notch or two.

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