The synthetic hum of the keys that joins Marty Achatz’s voice in “Christmas Grammar 2020” is admittedly small but contributive to the guts of what the track is made of, and in some ways, its role is exemplary of the collaborative element in Streaking in Tongues’ new album Christmas with Bigfoot. Though their instrumental portion of the record is pretty simple next to Achatz’s spoken word, Streaking in Tongues put enough of an indie filter on Christmas with Bigfoot to make it so much more powerful than a book on tape. This is avant-gardism over the yuletide season, and it’s had me thinking since getting an initial listen earlier this month.
Christmas with Bigfoot features a surprisingly smooth integration of spoken word and instrumentation, and I like that neither party here is trying to outgun the other. Lately, a lot of the experimental outings I’ve been looking at have felt more like a contest than an actual expression of self, but that isn’t the case with this LP; personality literally oozes from every angle of the material, and scarcely is there a moment in which it feels like we’re listening to something other than a collection of honest diary entries.
I love the structuring of the stories in this record, and especially how well we start with in “Bigfoot and Little Women,” perhaps the most brooding of the tracks here. It’s as long as a typical sitcom, but it’s over the course of over twenty minutes that we hear every facet of Achatz’s gift for poeticisms come to life in no uncertain terms. He’s one heck of a strong linguist, and he’s making a point of giving us as much of his own heart as he is an acknowledgment of the broken harmonies he’s presenting all of these verses before.
One of the most interesting elements of Christmas with Bigfoot is its emphasis on texture, which we find most prominently in the mastering of “The Christmas Eve Wrinkle” and “Bigfoot Noel.” Fred Thomas delivers a sharp final product in these tracks that makes it feel as though we’re sitting right beside the stage as Streaking in Tongues and Marty Achatz give this performance, and had I not known otherwise I would have assumed that there was additional synthesized instrumentation used to give this sound its physicality from top to bottom. Between words and the weight of the music, this is crushing content.
I didn’t know as much about Streaking in Tongues or their collaborator in Christmas with Bigfoot before hearing this record as I do now, but I can guarantee you that I’m going to be looking out for more of their work in the future (particularly if it ever includes Marty Achatz stopping in for a guest role). This is a thoroughly surreal affair that presses against the conventions of what an indie Christmas record can be without sounding completely off the wall and outside of the FM radio universe, and best of all, it asks nothing in return for its charismatic slew of considerations.
by Jennifer Munoz