Julian Koster The Singing Saw at Christmastime

No surprises here! This is Julian Koster’s singing saw, carolling Christmas tunes — and that’s it. The singing saw isn’t about to replace Bing Crosby at family gatherings but saw aficionados (and there are a few, from Marlene Dietrich to the Black Heart Procession) and fans of offbeat instruments couldn’t ask for a more charming stocking stuffer. Though the saw might seem more like a Halloween sound effect to most, it’s well-suited to Christmas — you use one to cut logs, as the liner notes point out, and to the refined ear it has a warm, old-timey sound. Koster, a saw virtuoso, has great pitch (which is difficult to conjure, believe me), and a lot of conviction — if anyone could convince the layman that the saw is a legitimate instrument and not just a novelty, it’s the man from the Music Tapes. The same goes for this record. It’s not for everyone, and those who buy it aren’t likely to add it to their iPods, but it’s an awfully cute project from someone with a genuine love for the sonority of the serrated instrument. (Merge)