Chandeen is a name highly recognized in the Ethereal/Heavenly Voices genres. It's no wonder since they've been at it for many years now. They have appeared on a large number of compilations, with probably the most famous appearances being on the various Hyperium label's Heavenly Voices compilations. They were on the Hyperium label for several years where they released several albums and received a lot of praise and positive reviews. They later left Hyperium and signed with SPV where they released one of their most popular albums to date, Spacerider.
Starting in 2002, they released Bikes and Pyramids and a year later Echoes on Kalinkaland Records which we thought kind of marked the start of the end of an era for them. In 2003 they announced that the band had disbanded and the final work we thought we would have was Pandora's Box, a compilation of some of their best works. This disbanding was devastating news for fans and many of us thought we had heard the last from this beloved band. However, in 2008 we were surprised with a new album Teenage Poetrayfeaturing a new vocalist and eleven new tracks as if the band had just taken a short break and nothing at all had happened. The legacy continued in 2011 with a subsequent release with Julia contributing vocals, titled Blood Red Skies. Taking their time to create a great new album, the end of 2014 saw the release of another great work in the form of Forever and Ever. We can only hope that with a title like that we can have more great music for many, many years to come.
Their sound is often enjoyed by fans of many different genres. Their style is described as Space-Pop meets New Wave, or more commonly as Dream-pop which is a fair assessment. Each album has evolved a little bit from one genre and influence to another, but with each new release they stay with their trademark sound that has made them so popular. I always find it interesting and entertaining to listen to the different styles, moods and lyrics present on their various albums. I have my favorites, but each one has something special that I enjoy.
Winter Reverbs - Review
I love Christmas music and I think the various ethereal goth influenced bands do it best. That's why I was giddy with excitement when I received word that one of my favorite dream-pop bands was releasing their own holiday music album this year (2015) just in time for the Christmas holidays. Needless to say I haven't been disappointed as we have a set of ten simple, yet beautiful selections of great tracks on this album that fans will love.
The beautiful rendition of "Carol of the Bells" as only Chandeen can do starts off the album. Presented with the solid foundational styles we've grown to love and expect from this project, such as the ambient soundscapes, dreamy distant vocals and soft, subtle electronics. The rest of the album takes on a little more of a minimalistic approach with piano being the principal instrument while Julia's soothing vocals portray the message of the Christmas season. The simple nature of these songs are a great way to present them, some of which are timeless classics. While simple in nature, they are still graced with haunting beauty, subtle yet dynamic soundscapes back the piano and soft vocals, creating a dreamy, spellbinding atmosphere.
The tracks presented are more of the classic and sacred pieces, including what I can assume might be local German selections "Es kommt ein Schiff geladen" and "Maria durch ein Dornwald ging". Not really your typical festive pieces, we're presented with "I Wonder As I Wander", "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" and "In Praise of Christmas" as beautiful, captivating selections that are favorites on this album. Timeless classics like "Stille Nacht" and "Veni Veni, Emmanuel" grace us with their ageless appeal. "Welcome Christmas" is a nice addition, though admittedly I'm not sure anyone can quite present it like Love Spirals Downwards, though these artists do a great job in their own simplistic style. A piece that I don't think I've heard anyone really try to cover before was a special surprise and treat for me with the Charlie Brown classic "Christmas Time Is Here". While presented in a short edit version of the song, it's still a definite highlight for me.
In summary, this is a great album, a great addition to our vast collection of timeless holiday classics and coming from Chandeen is definitely an added bonus. Pick it up for your own collection and enjoy!
Forever and Ever - Review
It was with great anticipation that I received word of this new album from these talented artists. Continuing with their tried and true sound they've developed over the years and picking up where they left off previously, we have another great album here. Presented in eleven dreamy tracks we have a great set of music spanning different moods and genres for a great collection.
The album starts right off with a mix of dreamy electronics creating a delicate, yet heavily layered soundscape with "Popcorn On Blue Eyes". As interesting as the name suggests, this instrumental piece moves along setting the tone and mood for much of the album as we're greeted with one stellar track after another. In various previous albums there have been shifts in dynamics, or one style or genre that takes precendence over another and with this album it's definitely the heavily layered ambient electronics. These compositions create a sort of dreamscape that permeates the air through each piece, yet most of the tracks have a fairly upbeat nature with moving percussion and a few with dance-friendly rhythms while still maintaining that airy, dream-pop sound.
With all of that being said it's worth touching on a few highlights on this album. The track that stands out the most to me and was the first introduction to the new material on this album was the excellent single "The Wild Unknown". "Cloudy Canyon" starts off with something of an ambient feeling, but quickly picks back up almost as a continuation of the introductory instrumental. The first greeting from Julia's vocals on this track is like a warm greeting from an old friend, it gives you that great sense of familiarity. As a big fan of The Naked and Famous, I really couldn't help but draw immediate comparisons with this track and a few of the stellar pieces from that band with their happy-go-lucky 80's pop sound. This track builds and fades, ebbs and flows creating a solid masterpiece that I've listened to over and over again and haven't gotten tired of it yet and doubt I will for a very long time. While this piece really stands out and I find myself listening to it much more than the rest of the album, the other selections still remain solid in their own light. "What Lies Beneath The Sky" has a great dream-pop feel with an added touch of vocoded robotic vocals while Julia's warm voice keeps it soft, dreamy and inviting. "Invaded By Love" carries on with similar feelings and style with a somewhat upbeat rhythm while still remaining beautiful and mesmerizing with the layers of electronics as a back-drop to the dreamy harmonized female vocals. "Splendid Echo" comes out a bit later with something of a classic Chandeen sound with soft piano, plenty of reverb and always dreamy soundscapes keeping the listener captivated. To wrap up the album we have a couple of splendidly beautiful pieces, first with "Paralysed" with dynamic dreamy, layered electronics backing the varied male and female vocals while "In Distant Sunset Light" becomes the perfect ending to this album. The effects of the dreamy ambient music backing the equally mesmerizing siren-like vocals create the perfect finale as it leaves the listener breathless and longing for more as the last soft breath of music drifts off into the night.
Harald has been creating this great music for years and together with Julia and the other guests and members that have helped him out on this album have really created a great masterpiece. This album has easily been a great new favorite for the year and an excellent addition to any music collection.
Blood Red Skies - Review
It's with great pleasure that I introduce this album after just a three-year wait this time, I'm just pleased that Harald and co. continue to create great music for us to enjoy. This album picks up right where Teenage Poetry left off with Julia Beyer on vocals over a mix of somber dream-pop sounds. We're presented with fourteen spellbinding tracks here across about an hour's worth of music that leaves the listener breathless and longing for more.
After a short introductory instrumental piece in "Stars Can Frighten", we're launched into the dreamy world of "Shadows Fade". This piece is the definition of what Chandeen is about, we have dreamy vocals, layered electronics creating an atmosphere to match and carry the vocals, and on this piece we have slower moving, yet somewhat bombastic heavy percussion. The entire album drifts along through a mix of dreamy ethereal pieces and other more upbeat selections. Interspersed here and there are short instrumental, ambient interludes like the introductory piece which divides up the album a bit and gives us even more diversity.
Favorites on this album are nearly every piece. As I listened to it over and over again, trying to choose the best tracks to present on the radio shows, it was hard and I could easily play the entire album and even include a couple on our club mix for the dark-clad folk that enjoy dancing to the more beautiful, dreamy sounds with a less obvious dance-friendly beat. I'll touch on a few of these more remarkable pieces here, starting with the aforementioned "Shadows Fade" which after the instrumental introduction, becomes the standard and first impression of the album. There's also a video-clip for this piece you can find on the band's Youtube page which served as something of a teaser before the album was released. As we drift along and hit the title track "Blood Red Skies" I get goose bumps all over. This piece has all the ingredients of a darkwave anthem. It kicks off with driving percussion and layer upon layer of synths, breaking off for the dreamy vocals on each verse, then building back up for the chorus in this bombastic, driving force. This piece has quickly become a favorite for listeners as well, launching it into our top ten as soon as it was presented. Following this up is an absolutely dreamy, almost folk piece "Kiji" which has been a perfect fit for our ethereal collection with a soft and subtle guitar, various electronics and a slow-moving beat all carrying the angelic vocals. Later we get a bit of a treat with "Citylights", starting off as more of an ambient, minimalistic piece with soft piano and subtle background noise with the slow, emotionally drenched vocals. The background noise builds to a powerful grinding guitar for a powerful accent to this piece and a really nice touch to the album overall. With fourteen pieces, we have plenty of ground to cover and as the album starts to wrap up we hit some more real gems in "Sunset Serenade", the instrumental piece "Floating to the Stars III" and a short vocal finale "Until Dawn". Each of these present their own unique style from soft, vocal dream-pop to spellbinding, futuristic space ambient music to a final, short vocal-led ambient finale.
Any pieces I've left out are still incredible as this album is really a true gem for fans new and old. Julia has done a great job with the vocal lead expressing the thought-filled lyrics and the music is absolutely captivating. This is really a great album with some good dynamics, but most of all ethereal and dream-pop fans will absolutely love it, don't hesitate to check it out and pick it up!
Teenage Poetry - Review
After five years, as an avid fan you can only imagine how excited I was to hear that this band was back with a new album. I was devastated at the thought of the end of Chandeen after 2003. Harald kept the label running with some great releases over the years and so for some people it's just hard to let it just die, which is good for us. Julia Beyer is the new vocalist and Mike Brown joins Harald on synths, programming and guitars. The booklet contains lyrics and nice artwork which supplements the eleven heavenly tracks on the disc for a beautifully complete package.
As a teaser track we were presented with "from the inside" a while ago and with that we got a shot at hearing the Julia's heavenly vocals and a taste of the solid sound that has been the foundation for this project for so many years. Based on this piece, the album builds on the solemn dreampop sound from one track to the other. "teenage poetry" is a somber piece with spoken word samples that slowly builds until we're brought to a favorite on this disc "welcome the still". This piece is ethereal dreampop at it's best with the smooth, lush vocals caressing the soundwaves over layers of smooth and dreamy synths. This piece also has a video that goes to it if you go to the website at chandeen.com you can check it out. Continuing on in this mid-tempo fashion with a little extra body with some guitars is "new colouring horizon". This piece picks up the pace just a little but remains as dreamy and mesmerizing as any other.
Long-time fans will be familiar with the occasional dreamy ambient sounds that Harald puts together from time to time. I believe new favorites along these lines graces this disc with "at the end of all days" and later "a last goodbye". Like a siren voice the synths come together in an awe-inspiring dreamlike fashion building and swaying, ebbing and flowing like dreamy waves over a mystical lake. Light percussion kicks in from time to time on this piece kind of moving it along without disturbing the dream. This leads us to the track that most will be familiar with by now "from the inside" which just continues right on with heavenly vocals and smooth musical compositions.
At this point we reach the halfway mark with "A Last Goodbye" which features some really nice soaring, yet sombar guitar layered over vocal samples and other building electronics and ambient loops that fade into nothingness leading us right into the next heavenly piece "looking forward, looking back". Though this piece is a vocal piece, the ambient textures remain strong as a backdrop to the dreampop percussion and synths. Picking up the intensity just a bit and slipping into something a little more "ordinary" is "clean the traces". This darker piece slips out of the space-ambient and back into the ethereal goth realm just a bit though there are still ambient traces throughout, but the pulsing bass, synths and vocals keep it all interesting. The album starts to wind down with the final pieces as "the coming dawn" slows down with mesmerizing vocals over ambient textures leading us into a "the sentiments of an old love song" which is a very somber ambient piece that takes us to the finale of "dreaming a thousand dreams" and a final bonus track titled "tomorrow" which features the soft vocals of Anji Bee of Lovespirals fame. These last two pieces, though different in so many ways, bring out the epitome of Chandeen featuring two different vocalists, yet it all remains cohesive and recognizable and of course beautiful and captivating.
Pandora's Box - Review
At the same time that I received the press release for this album, I also received the news of the end of this group. It was bitter-sweet news, the long-awaited "best of" compilation after a decade of releases, along with the news that it would also contain the last new works from this group as we knew it. Released on Kalinkaland Records in Germany, this long-awaited compilation contains some of the best from over a decade of spectacular songs to choose from.
I could have easily expected to see the tracks included on this album, but would also debate one or two others. I probably wouldn't have been able to limit the album to a single disc if I were choosing favorites to include, but would have released a second bonus disc also, including at least "My World Depends on You" and "Red Letter Days", along with a dozen others. But what we're presented with is still enough to give a nice history of the great music released over the years.
Even if you have all of the previous releases, you'll never hear their works like you will on this compilation. The combination of "At Worlds Edge" and "The World of Lost and Found" is a perfect example, mixing these two tracks seemlessly and presenting a brand new sound that is dark and dreamy and evokes the perfect introduction. Shifting in and out of the dream-pop to ethereal and swirling otherworldy feelings each track gives, the listener can feel the music as it penetrates to the core. "Siren's Call" drifts along with the longing and tragic tone of knowing loss and Edgar Allen Poe's dark and pensive moods come out in "A Dream Within A Dream" portrayed in floating and minimalistic fashion.
Another captivating mix, combining three beautiful tracks from three different albums is the combination of "Scottish Hills", "The Spacerider Legend", and "Love at First Sight". The dreamy vocals giving way to minimal piano loops that could bring tears to any grown man, that then segues to more siren-like vocals and moving rhythm and flute.
I don't think a compilation disc for this group would be complete without the inclusion of "To The Wild Roses" and "Jutland", two of my favorites from these artists. Both over eight minutes long and equally as captivating for the entire time, leaving the listener longing for another eight minutes of this music bliss. Finally, we're left with two new tracks for a finale. "Breathing Spirit" is the first of these which slowly builds through dreamy ambient instruments and sounds to Antje's beautiful vocals. The track continues to build slightly adding more depth and emotion through a strong rhythm and percussion set and fading suddenly into silence. "Tides of Life" is a more upbeat and dream-pop oriented track than the previous, but equally as fun and interesting to listen to. There is certainly an upbeat feeling, leaving the listener happy for ever discovering and listening to this group. And that is how I leave this review, happy to have discovered this group and listened over the years. This is definitely an album that will remain in my collection for years to come and that will get plenty of play during that time. I think other fans will agree with me in giving this album a perfect rating and recommending it very highly to all others.
Interview - 05/15/03
GP: I've been listening to the new album "Echoes" and it takes almost an entirely differenct direction than "Bikes and Pyramids", your previous album. "Bikes and Pyramids" really leans more toward pop music with a "happy-go-lucky" sort of mood and feeling in the lyrics and music, and "Echoes" is much more down-tempo and much more like ethereal/darkwave/gothic music. Why the difference and direction?
Harald: A short time after Bikes and Pyramids I felt a big desire to reflect my emotional side in a new way, to begin a journey into the depth of our musical roots. Well, and we wanted to go back to the Singer/Songwriter level and give the lyrics more importance. If I go back and reflect some tracks from Bikes and Pyramids I think some of these songs were "over-worked". Maybe this was the reason that they lost their soul. Well, after Bikes and Pyramids I thought: We have to go out, go back to our soul, our emotional side. I realise that I could not go on working in that style. And in the end Echoes is a very intense album, inspired by the sprit of nature focussed to the native life, the love of the natural sounds like birds, wood or crickets by night, the sounds of a forest or rain.
Antje: Actually we wanted to release a "10 years anniversary / best of Chandeen Compilation" and because of this we re-recorded some of our older songs. While this time Harald made a remix for the american Heavenly voices band "Hungry Lucy", their music-style used to inspire him a lot. He told me about his idea to create another Chandeen album and he gave me some pure piano- and guitar arrangements and recommeded to me a few poems, some of them we applied, some of them were just inspiration for me to write down some of my own lyrics. The recording/production worked out very well.
GP: The core of Chandeen for quite a few years has mainly been yourself (Harald), Antje and Stephanie, but on "Echoes" Stephanie is missing from the credits. Did she just take a break for this album and will we see/hear more of her on future works?
Harald: I don't think that this is only a break. In fact it was no real abrupt surprise for us, that Stephanie left Chandeen. After the production of the album "Spacerider love at first sight" she slowly started retreating herself from the writing and recording process. Even on "Bikes and Pyramids" she did not appear with her former dedication. Sometimes it was painful to see her retire from the band, but it was her way of going.
GP: I recently published a review of your project with Ion Javelin, which falls again into almost a totally different genre and musical style. Why did you decide to do this side project?
Harald: I wanted to make a project that is quite different as Chandeen and at that time I met Ion Javelin. We talked about a co-operation and of course, it was great recording. We worked on this project for about 6 years (of course, with some breaks). This was a very interesting and challenging project for me.
GP: While I'm sure your music is often classified and enjoyed in many different genres, and it seems you have a lot of popularity in Germany, yet here in the USA it seems your music is mainly only heard within the Heavenly Voices and Ethereal Gothic circles (I may be wrong too... just my observations). How do you feel about that classification? Do you feel that your music and lyrics relate well with the other artists that also seem to fall in that realm?
Harald: It's okay for me, I like people who are familiar with many kinds of music. The world is full of beautiful sounds, so they need classification. That's okay.
Antje: I have no problem with that "classification-thing" and I do not care about the fact if our music and lyrics fit into the other artists/music.
GP: While we're talking about music styles, what are your greatest influences for your music and lyrics? I know this is a broad question, but please try to think of a few examples...
Antje: Hm...I used to listen to many different kinds of music that is not so much in common with Chandeen (for example, now: Gus Gus, Goldfrapp, Evanescence, etc.). I can't say what kind of music or artist exactly inspires me...it is more than that, it is my whole life and environment, my thoughts and memories...of course music plays a certain part in it, too.
Harald: The spirit of nature...
GP: A question that I always like to ask in my interviews is about your own music and releases. Which Chandeen album is your favorite? And is it possible to choose a favorite Chandeen song?
Antje: I don't think I really have an all time favorite Chandeen album or song. But today's choice would be "The waking dream"....and "Drawn by the sea".
Harald: Well, every album has it's own story. Beside Echoes and in reflection I think it was wonderful to work on the second album Jutland. We were in Denmark at the sea, for several weeks in an old house, all alone. It was fall and very windy. We had only one thing to do. Working on music. It was a really great and emotional time.
GP: You've just released "Echoes" and not too long ago released "Bikes and Pyramids", what are your future plans?
Antje: In fact we never know what will happen next to us...maybe be will finally release our 10 years best of album...or start recording a completely new one, maybe we are going on tour, I have no idea!
GP: There is no doubt that each member of Chandeen has contributed in the past, and you have also had many guest musicians and vocalists. How does everyone contribute to the project as a whole? Do you get together in a studio a lot? Do you use modern technology to remotely collaborate? Do you (Harald) write the music and Antje writes the lyrics and then you just put them together? Maybe you can explain this whole process a little bit as I find it quite interesting how different bands actually put their music together.
Harald: I think we have many styles. Sometimes I write songs, instrumentals and Antje includes her own vocal melody or lyrics, but on the other hand, there are some songs, that are completely finished before I give it to Antje (for example Lucky Life from Bikes and Pyramids). And yes, sometimes we are all in studio and work together, but most of the time I've been working alone or with Florian, the guitar player. And we worked for many years with Axel Henninger, he was the producer of our first 4 albums. Of course, he always was present, too.
GP: Is there anything else you would like to add in general or as a message to your fans?
Antje: Feel free and visit our Homepage www.chandeen.com
Javelin/Lowey project - Broken Surface - Review
Harald Lowey, the musical mastermind behind Chandeen joins forces with Ion Javelyn the voice of Moskwa TV on this side project to bring us an interesting concept album. On this album the lyrics were written first and then the music was added to match the mood, text and idea behind the lyrics.
With these two great talents, you can imagine that the quality of this work is really nice. While it may not please all listeners, those that appreciate a nice mix of ambience with dreampop can really enjoy this work. The subject and concept is about a person who arrives to a foreign mega-city and relates the feelings during this adventure. As one track fades and builds on the other throughout this work, the listener is taken through minimalist ambient music to pop, and more driving beats and back again.
The album is split into 6 parts with a total of 14 tracks. Beginning with the "arrival" and ending with "The Sound of leaving Foot-Steps" and adding two extra tracks, the listener is taken through this strange adventure. The vocals are smooth, male, sometimes deep, sometimes sublime, but always clear and meaningful.
While the production and music is excellent on all tracks, each listener will probably have their own favorites. For many of the readers here, the more ambient pieces will probably stand out more than the pop-sounding tracks. While they blend well together in telling the story, it's also easy to take some of them apart and enjoy them individually. "A Zone of Silence" is one of these with dreamy music and nice vocals as the music slowly drifts and fades through a nice ambient sound. But even better than this is the final in the concept with "The Sound of Leaving Foot-Steps" again with a nice ambient sound and minimalistic vocals and a dreamy piano. But there is a ton of great material in between as the story and adventure is told through music and vocals.
The two extra tracks are noteworthy also as "Falling back 'n' forth" has experimental elements mixed with a nice beat and electro-pop styles. And the popular Moskwa TV track "Generator X.O.7/8" end the album with the techno-pop sound and sassy lyrics and vocals mixed together.
Again, this album is not for everyone. It's more for those that are open to experimental sounds mixed with pop elements.
Label: Kalinkaland Records