The Singing Saw

”Saws are tremendous pranksters, and the ruse of causing Human Beings to believe that they are actually playing them is perhaps the most beloved and persistent joke in Saw-kind’s long history.” That’s funny because when I think of saws, I usually think “sharp teeth” and “missing fingers.” Of course, I’ve never been intimately involved with a saw and, though I’ve heard melodies made from them, I believe this is the first time I’ve heard saws sing with no accompaniment. Julian Koster — he of The Music Tapes and Neutral Milk Hotel — coaxes from the saws a sound that is eerily placid. Yes, it’s shrill and not for everyone, but it’s quite lovely if you’re in a right merry frame of mind…and if you’re tired of the same-old holiday songs sung by pompous humans. The bewilderment comes roughly every three minutes or so as you realize, holy crap, you’re listening to an entire album of holiday standards played on a piece of actual hardware. But, as Koster notes, Jesus was a carpenter. Who knows—after a particularly stressful day of sermonizing and house framing, maybe the Son of God sat down with his saw, bow and a goblet of wine and conjured a soothing rendition of “Silent Night” to remind him of that fateful evening away in the manger.