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Candy Claws

Hidden Lands

(Twosyllable; US: 3 Aug 2010; UK: Import; Online Release Date: 3 Aug 2010)

Ryan Hover and Kay Bertholf, primary songwriters and players in Candy Claws, declare a challenge to the listener right up front on Hidden Lands. The seven minutes of synthy fog that constitutes the opener “In the Deep Time” is both all encompassing and hugely jarring. It gives us the damp feel of the record to come, but we don’t get the duo’s tunefulness until standout “Sunbeam Show” comes on. From there, Hidden Lands is a curious but arresting collection of sounds. I say sounds because sometimes it’s hard to tell when you’re going from song to song. Some of this comes from the borderless layers of effects, vocals, organic instruments, and synthesizers—the combined size of which makes it difficult to believe that just the two players created this album. The two also cleverly sample snippets of songs within songs. In other words, each part of Hidden Lands incorporates another piece of it, which makes the album sound all the more cohesive. This self-sample can at times, particularly in more shapeless moments like “Warm Forest Floor” or “Miracle Spring”, feel a bit distancing. But overall, this is a unique, striking album, and one that should be set apart from the already dated “chillwave” movement by its deep, moody feeling, and the organic, heavy substance of its sound.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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