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From Spirits and Ghosts
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Tarja (background vocals); Peter Gregson (cello); Jim Dooley (programming).
  • Audio Mixer: Tim Palmer.
  • Recording information: Genelec Studio Monitors; Stardust II, Antigua & Barbura.
  • Photographer: Tim Tronckoe.
  • While Finnish vocalist and songwriter Tarja Turunen is well known for wedding the operatic to symphonic metal, she forgoes the latter entirely on From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas). Recorded during the summer of 2017 in the Caribbean, mixed in Texas, and mastered in New York, the set includes 11 classic carols and other songs associated with the season as well as a new track recorded in the same manner. Turunen produced the collection with the American, Emmy Award-winning film score composer Jim Dooley -- who also handled arrangements -- and British producer Tim Palmer (Pearl Jam, David Bowie, U2, the Cure, et. al).
  • Though Turunen's voice is characteristically crystalline, the gothic orchestral treatments of the traditional holiday material, beginning with downright spooky album-opener "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," are sometimes akin to the gloomy and monumental atmospheres created by Dead Can Dance. This feel saturates other tunes here such as the heartbreakingly lovely "Pie Jesu," the wildly dramatic "O Tannenbaum," and amazingly enough, the album's greatest surprise "Feliz Navidad." The melancholy in the relatively sparse charts on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" creates an even greater sense of intimacy, while closer "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is drenched in echo and electronics aside a celeste and chamber instruments, creating an eerie feel to send the album off. "Together," the lone new track, is a bittersweet seasonal song with Turunen fronting a full chorus, as triangles, swelling strings, and tympanis fill up the space behind and around her -- it's as lovely as it is sad. The outlier is the hymn "Amazing Grace," stitched together with pulsing synths, low-end brass, and reverb before the entire orchestra floods the foreground. Somehow Turunen's aesthetic principles shoehorns the tune to fit seamlessly into the mix. Given the absence of metal on Spirits and Ghosts, it will be interesting to see how it sits with her legions of fans. For the rest of us, however, this is a gorgeous left-field addition to the Christmas canon. ~ Thom Jurek
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