The Holly and the Ivy

In previous years, Splendour Hyaline (the band consisting of my brother and myself) has enjoyed recording some music for the Christmas holidays. Now that we are past Thanksgiving, David and I decided to produce a few songs to add to the collection. The album is called The Holly and the Ivy, and has just two tracks (can you guess what one of them is?) which are available for download below. I’m also including for download all our previous Christmas songs, from the albums we recorded in 2006 and 2007: Christmas and Holy Night, respectively. Enjoy this Christmas gift from us, and please feel free to share these songs with your friends and family! (Also, be sure to check out Splendour Hyaline’s new profile).

To download, right-click the links and choose “Save Target As” (or your browser’s equivalent).

The Holly and the Ivy (2008)

  1. The Holly and the Ivy
  2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Holy Night (2006)

  1. We Three Kings of Orient Are
  2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  3. O Holy Night

Christmas (2005)

  1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  2. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  3. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Songs arranged and performed by Jonathan and David Lipps
Produced, recorded and engineered by David Lipps at Spareroom Studios
Cover art by Chris Nyffeler (except “Holy Night” by Jonathan Lipps)

Holiday Marketing is Upon Us!

It’s been a while since I wrote. Lots of things have happened. Work on Backlight continues. My personal life unravels. I take the GRE. I start applying to grad school again. I begin marathon training. I read many insightful things by many insightful people (and neglect to share). I ruminate about issues surrounding Election Day (war, abortion, gay marriage, the economy, and others). I vote. Barack Obama is elected president, and I breathe a sigh of relief along with the rest of the world.

I could have written reams about any and all of the above, but I didn’t. Instead, I come to you now with dire and horrifying news: The Christmas marketing season is upon us! And it will prevail. Unless we act soon. Last Saturday (November 1 — that’s November first), I was walking through San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center on the way to my running route. Being the day after Halloween, large poofy spiders and various orange-and-black things were scattered sadly around the shops. So far, so good — the emotionally awkward day-after detritus is a necessary evil that comes along with any holiday. But what did I hear piping through the mall’s music system? Silver Bells, that smooth and comfortable memory of listening to Bing Crosby as a child in the living room lit by a fire and colorful tree lights. Inconceivable. Impossible. Unacceptable. My mind quickly drew up its defenses and stood against the inappropriate Christmas emotions that had been involuntarily triggered by the song. Was I fast enough? Did I preserve holiday feelings for the holiday itself? Or am I now doomed to experience Christmas burnout? I don’t know.

My argument against the Holiday Marketing Season is simple: it’s too damned long. Don’t get me wrong, Christmas (and I’m talking about the secular, egg-nog-trees-and-lights holiday here, not the Christian celebration — I enjoy that for different reasons) has always been my favorite holiday, and in some impossible perfect world, it would be Christmas all year long. But the sad fact of human psychology is that there is a finite amount of enjoyment we can squeeze from any particular holiday, and there is generally an inverse relationship between the quality and quantity of that enjoyment. I understand the anxious greed of retailers that causes them to attempt to turn every last drop of holiday cheer into cash, and I appreciate the economic stimulation for our country that is often a result. We know from the law of diminishing returns, however, that true enjoyment is an art which requires a delicate balance of anticipation, satisfaction, and moderation. The message of marketers that we can live in the “satisfaction” phase of the enjoyment of the Christmas season for almost 2 months is simply false, and serves to counteract the quality of our enjoyment by turning us into holiday-themed consumption zombies.

So, how should things be? My desire is not for the complete elimination of Christmas-themed marketing (though there are often reasons to be depressed by it and to dislike it). In fact, holiday marketing can play an important part of the “anticipation” phase of enjoying Christmas. Towns and stores decorating themselves, seasonal drinks at Starbucks, the abounding of festive colors and the promise of upcoming time off of work spent with family and friends — all of these are fine things (especially peppermint ice cream and egg nog). What I don’t appreciate is the triggering of anticipation for or the actual satisfaction of Christmas enjoyment desires at inappropriate times. What is an appropriate time? After Thanksgiving (Oh yeah, isn’t that a holiday too?). The period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the ideal span to contain the entirety of the “Christmas season”. Christmas trees are put up, buildings decorated, the traditional carols left free to float through the air… it’s wonderful! Deserving of the name “festival” rather than “slog”.

I beg you, therefore, to do what I’m going to do: completely ignore any and all holiday marketing until after Thanksgiving (unless, of course, it is about turkeys or tofurkeys or pumpkin pies or “Fall” or cornucopias or Beaujolais Nouveau). Don’t buy egg nog until December. Don’t play Christmas music. Boycott Santa hats. Wait to put lights on your house. Do this, and you will become true connoisseurs of the Christmas season, realizing that maximum enjoyment is found in the ordering of anticipation and the limiting of satisfaction!

Holy Night by Splendour Hyaline

Now that we are in December, and are therefore allowed to start thinking about Christmas (whereas consumer hegemony would have us believe that time was three weeks ago), I am very pleased to present Splendour Hyaline’s 2006 Christmas EP, Holy Night:

(To download the album, right-click the above links and choose the option to download the files to your computer.)

David and I hope that these songs can accompany your 2006 Christmas season, as our previous Christmas EP did last year; if you have not downloaded those songs, you can get them here. Unfortunately, we had a very limited amount of time in which to record the three songs above (very few takes each), so the performance quality on my part is less than superb. (In addition, I just realized I didn’t catch an error in the lyrics of “O Holy Night”. Oh well.) Equally unfortunately, neither David nor Rachel were able to add their talents to the mix. David did, however, produce, mix, engineer, and master the whole album, which is happily noticeable.

That being said, I think things sound great on the whole, and am excited especially about a few classical guitar interludes in the songs. So, please download and enjoy them and, as always, listen with headphones!

Christmas by Splendour Hyaline

As a gift for all of our friends and family this Christmas, my brother David and I (who comprise Splendour Hyaline) recorded a 3-song Christmas EP, inexplicably called “Christmas”. Here it is for download in MP3 format (make sure to right-click and Save Target As):

(cover art by Chris Nyffeler)

(for those of you using iTunes, you’ll see the album art is already attached to the songs. Otherwise, feel free to copy the image from this page)

NOTE: Songs are now considered to be the final mix.