Sunday, 02 August 2015

Castanets - Texas Rose, The Thaw And The Beast (Asthmatic Kitty)

Castanets The Castanets' fifth album for Asthmatic Kitty, Texas Rose, The Thaw And The Beast is a paired down, mellow homage to the deep South. Mixing production techniques, instruments and genres, front-man Raymond Raposa has created the perfect musical environment for his gravelly vocals which guide the listener through the dark.

Unlike previous Castanets albums, Texas Rose, The Thaw And The Beast is vocally led, with Raposa's distinctive voice taking precedence over whatever the instrumental lines are doing. Bluesy, gravely which a distinguishable sense of melancholy, front may Ray Raposa conjures up a desolate image of what's left once everything and everyone has gone.

Described by the label as a pop record that keeps it real with "one foot in a shimmering puddle of strangeness and experimentation." It shouldn't come as a surprise that the 'Rose' Raposa describes within the opening track, is not the gift of a lover to his valentine. Rather the dark imagery and melancholy instrumentation find more in common with Carol Ann Duffy's Valentine, rather than pop-culture's favourite card filled holiday.

For an album which is also a counter narrative, it is odd that 'On Beginning' should be the second track on the album. With the same gravely vocals taking prominence, the same sense of dejection and isolation continue on. But underneath, the sound is less organic than 'Rose', signalling the start of the album's experimental phase.

Of the two instrumental tracks, 'We Kept Our Kitchen Clean And Our Dreaming Quiet' offers more of the musical experimentation that Castanets fans are used to. 'Ignorance And Blues' in contrast is the musical equivalent of a moonlit lake - calming and beautiful and a chance to clean your musical palate before the grand finale.

It is the gravelly vocals which unify the album throughout its generic sojourns. But they are also one of its biggest letdowns. With such a distinctive voice, it's a shame that more isn't made of the myriad of textures it could provoke.

Consequently the different colours of the various tracks are lost when the picture is viewed as a whole. And the overall impression is much blander than the individual moments that the forty-minute narrative provides.

Rating: 3/5

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Published: 01/10/2009 at 19:59
Author: Mary Stokes
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