Candidate In Session — 2002 — Past Daily Soundbooth
by gordonskene · Jan 31, 2019
Candidate — scrupulously avoiding the pigeonhole of dusty Folk Revivalists.
Candidate in session tonight — recorded at BBC 6 Music on March 9, 2002. It’s not quite clear whether they are still together or on hiatus -their website stops at 2012 and there seems to be no updates. So any informed guesses would be welcomed.
In the meantime — (via their website bio from 2012)
“Candidate had never really planned to be a live band, so they played a single celebratory gig and went into hiding, building their own home studios so they could work quietly without time limits or outside pressure.
Obsessively writing and recording for six months before finding the right blend of ideas for their new record, dozens of songs were completed and summarily rejected.
Finally, it clicked. In two parallel home studios on different sides of London, a set of tracks were worked up that took the band where they wanted to go. More considered, layered and textured than the spare music on the first album, this was somehow a much more intimate and personal record than the band had attempted before.
“Tiger Flies” was a sprawling, wilful oddity, filled with fingerpicked guitars and wheezing synthesizers, clattering drum machines and cavernous flutes. More ambitious than its predecessor, with a wider range of influences, Tiger Flies was a confident and ear-catching achievement. The record was picked as Album of The Week by The Sunday Times and hailed everywhere as announcing the arrival of a band to watch.
Encouraged by the positive response to the more folk-inflected elements of Tiger Flies, Candidate decided to record an entire album in that vein. The record was inspired by the eerie soundtrack to cult 1970s British horror film The Wicker Man and to prepare for it, the band decamped to the film’s locations, staying in the same hotel as Edward Woodward’s character and recording demos in the film’s ruined churchyard and between the charred legs of the titular prop on the cliffs at Burrow Head.
The finished album, Nuada, was recorded quickly, allowing just enough time for a guest appearance from legendary guitarist Bert Jansch, but not enough to set up a drumkit (the jazz snare on one track is a handful of spaghetti played on a cardboard box). Its blend of freshness and folky antiquity found it hailed as a ‘gem of superior British folk music.’ It became a firm favourite, gaining the band a whole new fanbase. The rattling, swishing ‘Song Of The Oss’ was picked up as the theme music for the BBC’s dope dealer sitcom ‘Ideal’.
Wary of being pigeonholed as dusty folk revivalists or an alternative soundtrack group, the band adopted a different approach for their next record, Under The Skylon. With deliberate echoes of 1970s radio rock, the album used a wider range of styles to document the rise and fall of a love affair, explored through the metaphor of The Skylon a freestanding, futuristic structure erected to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951 and dismantled shortly afterwards for no discernible reason. On this record, the band’s songwriting matured further and, with the help of Divine Comedy producer Darren Allison, they achieved the biggest, most expansive sound of their career.
Their fifth album, Oxengate, sees them return to the experimental folk of Tiger Flies and Nuada, this time with nods to the vocal field recordings of Alan Lomax and the dense harmony singing of the Copper Family, all welded to Candidate’s familiar palette of summery drones and psychedelic campfire singalongs. Recorded in leafy gardens in Suffolk and quiet rooms in London, it’s a mixture of the urban and the rural, the very old and the fresh-out-of-the-box, and listening to it is, as always with Candidate, a little like lying on your back, drunk, in a field.”
That’s where we’re at right now — needless to say, this session offers a tantalizing glimpse into a band breaking away from a potential stereotype.
Might be good for more than one listening, agreed?
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Originally published at pastdaily.com on February 1, 2019.