It’s difficult to discern what goes on in the collective minds of Candy Claws, the dream pop/shoegaze group from Fort Collins, Colorado (which, incidentally, was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana). When asked how the band came to be in a rare interview following the release of Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time, band member Ryan Hover offered the following reply:
“Not many people know this, but the band actually formed 100 million years ago. I was a young Ceratopsian hiding under a fern, and I looked out and saw the sun on the ground. It was about the same size as when it’s in the sky, and brighter. A girl floated in front of it and threw 1,000 neutron stars in my mouth, and one reversed pulsar. She whispered as I fell asleep: ‘In your dream, it will be the 21st century. First, make an album of the Sea, then the Land, and finally the Mesozoic.’ I’ve just finished all three, so I expect to wake up soon.”
Perhaps this uniquely arcane worldview is what allows Candy Claws to prosper in a genre that has become saturated with My Bloody Valentine imitators opting for the path of least resistance, eschewing creativity for stifling amounts of reverberation and distortion. The titular characters of Ceres & Calypso are apparently a time-traveling girl and her companion, a white seal composed solely of bones and snow. The story is that Ceres and Calypso find themselves in the Mesozoic era, and as for the rest, well: “It’s some kind of narrative about these two time-travelers. Like all good art, I’ll leave the interpretation up to you. If you figure it out, let me know!” Regardless, the plotline is irrelevant, as the lyrics are completely indecipherable. What’s left is something that sounds like an alternate reality Loveless where Kevin Shields was stuck recording on a tropical island.
Amidst an amorphous and labyrinthine soundscape, Candy Claws demonstrate their knack for writing catchy, sunny psych pop hooks. They have an acute yet unorthodox ear for melody, meandering in such a way as to repeatedly create twists and turns that are unexpected but always satisfying. The array of influences on Ceres is diverse – Spaghetti Western, traditional East Asian folk, flamenco, and classic 60’s psychedelia – all dressed up in a fuzzy haze of guitars and clacking percussion. The swirling reverberation, lush textures, and undulating dynamics of each track are somehow capable of conveying a sense of adventure and vivid imagery without communicating a single word. Listeners encounter a moment of déjà vu as they realize closing track “Where I Found You (One Star)” is near identical to opener “Into The Deep Time (Sun),” evoking the experience of waking up from a lucid dream.
If there is one flaw of Ceres & Calypso, it would be its claustrophobic production, which at times compresses the multilayered compositions into a nebulous mess. Nonetheless, these minor blemishes do not majorly detract from what is one of the most inspired and entertaining shoegaze records of this decade.
Candy Claws – White Seal (Shell and Spine)
Candy Claws – Birth of the Flower (Seagreen)