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Cast - 2015 - "Vida"

(61:16, ‘Cast’)


*****
                 
TRACK LIST:

1. Dragon's Attack 8:22
2. Silent War 7:02
3. Change 9:14
4. Run in the Rain 11:17
5. House by the Forest 7:07
6. Door of the World-1 4:50
7. Door of the World-2 6:15
8. Door of the World-3 7:09

LINEUP:

Alfonso Vidales – keyboards 
Claudio Cordero – guitars 
Antonio Bringas – drums 
Bobby Vidales – vocals 
Flavio Miranda – bass 
Roberto Izzo – violin 
Lupita Acuna – vocals 
With:
Pepe Torres – flute, clarinet, sax
Francesca Rapetti – flute 
Stefano Cabrera – cello 
Raffaele Rebaudengo – viola  

Prolusion. The Mexican band CAST is among the more senior bands still active on the progressive rock scene today, with a history going back to the late ‘70s and a recording history that started in 1985. Since 1993 Cast has released new material at a steady pace, the band having almost two dozen albums in their discography as of 2016. "Vida" is their most recent studio recording, self-released by the band in 2015.

Analysis. In terms of content Cast is among the bands that appear to hone in on the type of progressive rock that brought the genre to fame back in the ‘70s. While one might argue that they may have more of a timeless sound to them or that certain details might indicate an inspiration from bands closer to what many refer to as avant-garde, Cast is a band that appears to have their main focus on vintage-era symphonic progressive rock. This latest album of theirs could well have been released if not at the start then at least towards the end of the '70s without anyone back then noticing anything out of order here. When exploring this subset of progressive rock and when taking on what most will describe as a vintage sound, the main challenge is to avoid coming across as stale or as a band replicating what others have done better before. Cast doesn't appear to have any problems in rising to that particular challenge, as this album sounds fairly vital. Familiar-sounding details will obviously appear here and there, especially for those with an intimate and expansive knowledge base about this type of music, but there's nothing detrimental about any of these compositions. The sound, mix and general atmosphere do have a vintage touch, by accident or design, although personally I'd vouch for this being an intended feature. And while the general style explored is a uniform one, the band doesn't replicate itself in any great manner here either. All the compositions come with their own subtle or not-so-subtle details that separate them quite nicely from each other, be it a specific, distinct kind of opening, structural or thematic development or arrangement details specific to a composition. Floating, surging and fluctuating keyboards are key elements throughout, as one would expect from a symphonic progressive rock band. On this occasion the violin is also given a central role throughout, used in a number of different manners. While the violin as an instrument is often used to emphasize melancholic or mournful aspects of a composition, Cast has opted to use the instrument in a much more spirited, uplifting and at times even whimsical manner on this production, emphasizing the joy of life just as much if not even more than the more distressing shades of existence. When that is said, this isn't a CD with an intent focus towards joyful compositions and moods as such. It's rather a more complex creation in terms of atmospheres, where the uplifting moments are blended fairly equally with the tense and dramatic ones, with occasional lapses into moods of a more melancholic nature. The main aspects of life, one might say, all visited in part or in whole, with various keyboards and violin as the main providers of the sounds that create those mental landscapes. The fine musicians from The Gnu Quartet are used to good effect on a select few tracks with flute, cello and viola, further enriching some specific compositions, in addition to the violin of Roberto Izzo, which is a mainstay element. High quality, perfectly controlled lead vocals are the icing on the cake here, as well as some charming, effective backing vocal details courtesy of Lupita Acuna.

Conclusion. For those with an interest in vintage era symphonic progressive rock, Cast comes across as a band one should take note of, if you're not already familiar with this veteran band. Those with a particular fondness for well-developed, keyboard-dominated compositions should have a field day with this album, and those with a special affection for violin and keyboards, used in tight interaction within such a framework should most likely find this CD to be an inspired one. This is a quality album for those with a preference for melodic and harmony-oriented vintage symphonic progressive rock. Top-10-2015

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: April 5, 2016
The Rating Room


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