Stop and think, for a second, what a weird place church is. By that, we’re not talking must-see wonders like the Vatican, Barcelona’s the Sagrada Familia, or Paris’ Church of Notre Dame, but instead your local place of worship. Chances are it’s nothing but wooden pews that look weirdly like they came from Ikea, a plain podium with a microphone, and an austere cross somewhere in the background.
But the weird thing is the folks who show up religiously each week.
Don’t consider that a slight on their faith—more power to those who’ve found something to believe in (and, hopefully, are wise enough to keep their beliefs to themselves rather than ramming them down the throats of their fellow citizens). But don’t they have better things to do? Christmas shopping? Cleaning the house? Binge-watching the fascinating meditation on religion that is Midnight Mass?
The captivating thing about Kandle’s “Cathedral” is the way that it leans into the weirdness. Things start out like a thinking-person’s horror film—imagine walking into a room of folks dead-focussed, silently, on a priest, only to have them whipsaw their heads around the second the door shuts behind you. Folks, it should be noted, who seem to take their eyeliner tips from Alice Cooper, Siouxsie Sioux, and the ghost of Tammy Faye Bakker.
In the four minutes that follow the man in the pulpit proceeds to play puppetmaster, the church auditorium looks more like a modern-dance studio, and Kandle ends up, err...let’s not spoil the ending, other than to say it’s effectively creepy and decidedly open-ended.
The song is a flat-out stunner, with the Vancouver-raised—and Montreal-based—singer sounding like she’d like nothing better than spending a Sunday afternoon spinning scratchy old jazz records with Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and Shirley Bassey. Would someone fucking explain why this still-under-the-radar woman isn't a star, and we're not just talking in Canada.
Yes, “Cathedral” is that goddamn beautiful. Kind of like Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and Westminster Abbey in London—all of which we’d happily spend our Sunday mornings in if we didn’t have better things to do.