My first experience with the dream pop duo Karen and Ryan Hover dates back long before they took on the name Sound of Ceres. Around 2013, I was introduced to an album that sounded like nothing I had heard before. I was just starting my love affair with dream-pop/ shoegaze and I had the pleasure of stumbling across Candy Claws’ album Ceres & Calypso in The Deep Time. The album shook off the typically cold and distant sound prevalent within the genre in favor of a tropical flourish, sounding like I imagine the Mesozoic era to be. The album was warm and lush and hugged its listener with a fierce intensity. I fell in love with the sound almost immediately. Strangely enough, I found the album through an online web forum. I was completely unaware that this amazing band could be found right in my own backyard.
It wasn’t until a year or so later that I was able to see them live, and by that time the band I had come to admire was falling apart. From that show I walked away with their debut album, In The Dream Of The Sea Life, and it has been a staple in my car ever since. This is also when they announced that they would be forming a new group, and the band was to be called Sound of Ceres. They were going to take on members of Apples in Stereo and The Drums and would be releasing an album under that name soon enough.
Let’s move forward to March 10th of this year. Sounds of Ceres released their debut album, Nostalgia for Infinity, with a show at the High Dive (they also played another release in their native Fort Collins days earlier). Sadly, I was unInable to make the show, but from what I have heard, the night was a resounding success and was able to showcase the songs off the new album well.
I have had Infinity on repeat for days now since it became available to stream. I enjoy the new album immensely. The opener, "Pursuer", places the listener in a sort of mystic head space. The crashing drums and twinkling guitars, along with the ethereal vocals and humming synths set the tone for the rest of the album. Instrumentally, this is a calypso album at its heart, a calypso album that has been washed in reverb and viewed through a psychedelic lens. This becomes apparent upon listening to the first couple of tracks, specifically the track "Bryn Marina" (which has a fantastic video directed by David Jude Harris). The fourth cut off of the album, "My Spiral Arm", is a groovy throwback, that has a hazy lounge feel to it that's perfect to listen to while spending a lazy summer afternoon laying in the sun. The song is warm and inviting and extremely satisfying upon replay. The same groovy sense can also be felt on the track Side A, a personal favorite of mine.
Lyrically, the album suffers from the inherent nature of the very genre they work themselves into. Karen finds herself fighting for space in the mix and often looses to a mass of synths and guitars, making it difficult to decipher the extremely lofty concept that this album strives toward. Infinity finds itself looking to the stars for inspiration.Whereas Candy Claws was concerned with matters here on Earth, such as the expansive ocean in In The Dream Of The Sea Life and the dense forestation of Ceres and Calypso, Hover aims for something higher with Sounds of Ceres. We also get to hear a lot more of Ryan, like on tracks such as track Side A, which adds a nice contrast to Karen's voice.
Finally, we have been gifted "Dagger Only Run" as a closing track. This is one of the greatest thrill rides I have had the pleasure of listening to in a long time. The track kicks off with spacey synths, the likes of which you can't help but move to. The composition of this piece is flawless, and it serves as a fitting bow on an already wonderfully unexpected gift. With a few minor exceptions, Nostalgia for Infinity delivers on everything I have come to expect from the people behind Candy Claws and proves to be a great debut record. I highly recommend this record to anyone and everyone.