Artist: Candy Claws
Album: Hidden Lands
Label: twosyllable records
Release date: August 3, 2010
Rating (Skip, Stream, or Buy): Buy
Download: "Sunbeam Show"
Hidden Lands finds Candy Claws as almost the Claude Debussy of chillwave, eschewing narrative and emotion for brilliant aural swaths of color and low-tide melodies that envelop the listener in a faraway space. There's a remarkable level of intricacy and study that goes into creating this dreamy, overwhelming rapture: Each song samples every other song, and the production was styled to mimic early stereo recordings from about a century ago.
Though deeply meticulous, Hidden Lands seems just a product of playtime. Almost the entire instrumentation is made up of keyboards, an instrument none of the band knew how to play. The lyrics (which, submerged in the sound, function more as instrument than messenger) are lines from Richard M. Ketchum's The Secret Life of the Forest regenerated through a meme, TranslationParty, which translates phrases in and out of Japanese until they reach "equilibrium," or a consistent translation. But its result is a sort of poetry askew: "Understory home half hidden / See it with love eyes looking lower / Glimpses in leaves see maybe / Something else is there." You can try to guess what the original words were, perhaps, but they seem so far from something out of a science text.
And in that sense, so much about the Hidden Lands experiment is a little bit askew--guitarists fitting themselves to keys, English fit to Japanese--yet gorgeous in that organic, idiosyncratic kind of way.