Garden of Beasts, the debut album from Berlin-based, Irish musician Candice Gordon has been a long time coming. 2-years in the making, in fact. Yet while fans may have been impatiently waiting – relying only Candice’s extensive touring for comfort – Candice was cooking up something truly spectacular; undoubtedly worth the wait.
Garden of Beasts, in Candice’s words, is inspired by: “moving to Berlin and observing the very dark and heavy history that is visible and inescapable everywhere in the city. It’s an exploration of human nature, the hubris of identity, dispossession, and the conflict between the allure of savagery that is in all humans and the desperation of salvation from that.” It’s heavy stuff, no doubt, and Garden of Beasts is far from light-hearted. But there is a softness to Candice’s delivery too. Recorded in part in Funkhaus, and partly in a country house in Ireland, the album seems to draw inspiration from her home turf. The harshness of Berlin mixed with sprawling country landscapes, a sort of dreamy hopefulness evident in tracks like ‘Tomorrow.’
While I try to avoid talking about musicians in terms of their closeness to other musicians – who’s produced their albums, who they’ve supported, etc – the album, too, seems to draw inspiration from The Pogues’ Shane MacGowen. Since producing her 2013 EP Before the Sunset Ends MacGowen has become somewhat of a mentor for Gordon – his influences seeping out in her folky darkness. It blends a folky sweetness with unapologetic darkness; synths with flutes. It does so to create brooding, expansive sonic landscapes. And, from the rhythmic slowness of ‘Smoke In The Air,’ and ‘The Child’ to the quicker ‘I Belong To The Night,’ Candice’s vocals float over, hypnotic, and endlessly compelling. And with the album produced by labelmate A.S Fanning, Candice keeps it close.
Really, I feel as though it’s impossible to do justice in reviewing Garden of Beasts. Candice has created something so complete, yet so expansive; so dark and brooding, yet so sweet and compelling. It’s truly a masterpiece.