REVIEW: TinyForest – A Very Tiny Christmas EP

A Very Tiny Christmas EP

Are you ready for a smoothed out, baller Christmas? Yes you fucking are. TinyForest is at it again, this time taking what in my opinion is the only Christmas record (and this includes the Low Christmas album, which just didn’t cut it for me) and made it fresh. Or phat. Or some other hip-hop oriented, and probably dated slang. Just to reiterate, I could give a shit less about Christmas music. One of my top homies shared this analogy about Christmas music with me: imagine Christmas music was just Waterfalls by TLC. Every year they just played that song, and variations of that theme. Waterfalls might be a great song, but eventually you’ll hate it. And that is exactly how I feel. Then TinyForest made me eat my words.

The source material here in case you’re to ornery to click that link above, or in case the visual cue of the album art wasn’t quite blunt enough, is Vince Guaraldi’s score to the Charlie Brown Christmas special. So this was low-hanging fruit, and a particularly easy target for anyone so inspired to take it. The question is, and this is one I hope you all ask yourself after hearing this, is how did it take so long for someone to actually make this? I thank TinyForest for that initiative, as now I have two Christmas records to listen to.

Opening with “Linus and Lucy,” the EP gets off to a pretty decent start. I say decent, because by my estimation it’s the weakest of the three tracks. That doesn’t mean I dislike, or that it isn’t a worthy effort. It’s just that in contrast to the other two tracks, this song probably takes the easiest approach to hip-hop-ifying Guaraldi’s work. It’s basically just the track you know with a heavy beat underneath. Nothing wrong with that, and still perfectly serviceable. In fact, if the other two tracks hadn’t been like this, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it.

And just a stray observation here, but I could totally here Biz Markie rhyming on this. If you’re reading this Biz (we’re tight like that), you might want to ring up TinyForest.

I think “Skating” is the real choice cut here. Taking the original track of the same name and slowing it down/re-editing it gives for a dreamy, ethereal sound that is somehow both delightful and haunting. It kind of reminds me of “All I Need” by Clams Casino, which is one of my favorite songs of any genre (and which is definitely my favorite song that Soulja Boy has ruined).

Last up is TinyForest’s take on the most essential of all of Guaraldi’s tunes, “Christmas Time is Here.” This is far and away also the least recognizable of all of them, given the amount of manipulation to the track. Still, that’s a good thing, since the goal here seems to be less about paying direct tribute to an already fantastic album, and more about making this his own, which is just what this track does. If you really listen for it, you can hear the source material, but you have to have an attentive ear. Chopped up and reorganized, this “Christmas Time is Here” eschews the children’s choir in favor of the all piano version, which when renegotiated as it is here, plays more like a Four Tet or Prefuse 73 track than anything else.

Why aren’t you listening to this right now? You can pay your own price here, and I recommend paying enough to get this kid as many toys as he can get his damned hands on, since he clearly has a vision.