Karen and Ryan Hover, having completed a Perfect Triumvirate of Candy Claws albums, formed Sound of Ceres in 2014 as a duo in collaboration with members of the Apples in Stereo and the Drums. While Candy Claws explored terrestrial realms such as the ocean, the forest, and the Mesozoic, Sound of Ceres expands to contemplate all of space and time, and the human place within it.
The mysterious tale of ‘The Twin’, the second full-length from Sound of Ceres, exists in myriad permutations, too: a new album, a mesmerising live show, videos, an Alastair Reynolds short story… and others in-between. Sound of Ceres' creative cohort of authors, composers, and illusionists traveled from a snowy Alpine retreat to the outer limits of deep space to bring you The Twin.
While their 2016 debut ‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ responded to the hugeness of time and space, now Sound of Ceres explore the strangeness of being just one human outcome amidst an infinitude of possibilities. The adventure begins with one of the great works of 20th century German literature, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. As Ryan Hover read the tale of Hans Castorp (named for one of the twins of Gemini), whose life as a shipbuilder gets sidetracked by a visit to a rest home in the Swiss Alps, new chords, melodies, and lyrical ideas seized his imagination. Elements from the novel – the snow and isolation of the mountains, echoes of Grimm's Fairy Tales, a fixation with the number seven – took on a new form as the fantastic universe of The Twin took shape.
Karen Hover and Ryan gave voice to early versions of the songs, exploring the sound of words even as they teased out lyrical ideas. Rough sketches were dispatched to band mates Derrick Bozich, Jacob Graham, and Ben Phelan, and then Ryan fashioned their instrumental contributions into new arrangements. But just as ‘Hans in The Magic Mountain’ undergoes a great transformation as from the flatlands through the narrow gauge to the Alps, ‘The Twin’ underwent great changes as it began to travel – in this case, to Iceland.
Ryan, Karen, and Jacob arrived at the Reykjavik studio of producer Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Julianna Barwick) with the original mixes of what seemed like more-or- less finished songs. And then they went through a different door. Guitars and harpsichords gave way to more analog synthesizers and melodic percussion. As the music's dynamic range grew wider, timbres chilled, and more layers of vocals were woven into the background, a new twin of The Twin emerged.
‘The Twin’ opens with the hypnotic "Gemini Scenic," analog keyboards and pulsating drums lifting up Karen's hazy, layered vocals; the intensity ebbs and flows, propelling the listener deeper into the album's mysterious sonic universe. "Mercury's Moods" clicks and hisses like some steam-powered alien machine, while "The Twin" underpins harp glissandi and Ryan's voice with crisp, dry snare hits. Hints of '60s exotica, '70s AM radio, and even symphonic grandeur weave through layers of rippling synths and shifting rhythms. Ideas drawn from the past and future fold together, creating a sound that exists outside any particular time or trend.
In concert, ‘The Twin’ evolves and changes nightly; no two versions of this immersive audio-visual experience are alike. Lasers and fibre optics pierce the darkness and smoke, creating a web of ever-changing constellations. Stars, circles, and double- helixes dance around the band, bouncing off reflective costumes and outstretched hands. Responding fluidly to each unique environment where they perform, Sound of Ceres transport the audience into the heart of the great cosmos via a mystifying display of lights and effects, coupled with hypnotising sound.
Just as the various members of Sound of Ceres combine ideas and energies to fashion their magical world, everything they create together – words and music, video, live performance art – interlocks to tell the whole story. And when all the elements align, ‘The Twin’ unlocks a universe of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes. You'll never experience it the same way twice.