In 1990, I was going through a New Age phase and bought this album as much for its title as anything else. At this late date, I can recall nothing else of the Ekimi album; but their version of "Good King Wenceslas" was instantly unforgettable. Because they did the song as a spoken piece, I understood what the words meant and what the song was about for the very first time.
A little background that most likely won't care about, but some may. Wenceslas was actually a Duke, not a King-- the Duke of Bohemia (what is now part of the Czech Republic) to be precise. Duke Wenceslas was beloved by his subjects as a kind, generous and pious man. In particular, the Duke loved Christmas. Every Christmas Eve, he would call his pages to gather food, firewood and clothing and they would give them to the neediest of his people. Wenceslas would then encourage others among the rich to do likewise. Wenceslas was ultimately killed by his own brother when he was only 28, famously saying "Brother, may God forgive you." Wenceslas' brother had been put up to the deed by the pagans, but, seeing what he had done, Boleslaus turned from them and spent the remainder of his life carrying out the good works his brother had started. Duke Wenceslas was later decreed a Saint. The tales of Saint Winceslas were written down and carried far and wide. In the mid 1800's, Reverend John Mason Neale, a hymn-writer, decided that the tale of Wenceslas would be a fitting way to teach others of Christian charity. His words (a translation of the written Czech stories) were put to an old tune believed to be of Scandanavian origin, "Tempus Adest Floridum", and published in 1853.
Ekimi was primarily the collaberation of two classically trained musicians from Cincinnati, Chris Dahlgren and Billy Larkin. They wanted to explore new musical interpretations and thought Christmas music would be ideal for that. "The Next Noel" was issued on the California Music-West label. The pair recorded a few more albums as Ekimi on their own Krysdahlark label before splitting. Both moved firmly into Jazz music. Dahlgren moved to Berlin in 2004 where he teaches music and plays with his current group Lexicon. Larkin is still in Cincinnati where he currently plays with the group Triage. For "Good King Wenceslas", they called upon Gary Barton for the dramatic reading.
"The Next Noel" is, sadly, very much out of print. Nor does it appear to be available digitally. The good news is that it's not especially rare, so, if you're interested, you should be able to find a copy at a reasonable price.