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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 110 - 09/18/05

Castanets
Cathedral
Asthmatic Kitty

Castanets? Some Spanish rhythm orchestra or what? No, rather some US underground spiritual mysticism spun out from a dark cellar by one Raymond Raposa. Labelled 'apocalyptic Americana' and 'avant-country' which both could be fitting tags on what is both creepy and cosy at the same time. Raposa himself calls it 'derailed psychedelic country' which is another to-the-point description of the output. Cathedral is almost a year old but while awaiting the second album, First Light's Freeze (due to be released in October) let's check inside the cathedral. Or rather down in the catacombs below, because that's where the music comes from. Cathedral seems to be a three part story: Cathedral 2 (Your Feet On The Floor Sounding Like the Rain), Cathedral 3 (Make Us New) and Cathedral 4 (The Unbreaking Branch and Song). No part one. And in-between the other songs have got regular titles. Maybe "2", "3" and "4" were some untitled pieces. Maybe it doesn't matter that much. Anyway, musically Castanets creeps and crawls, and stumbles along with a rather unusual instrumentation and with non-traditional arrangements. The approach is rather acoustic and the crew/band go in and out of the mainly sparse soundscapes with voices and instruments quite soberly added. Along with guitars, harmonica, pedal steel, brass and so on there's a variety of odd percussion such as, well, cycle bells. The main line throughout the album is a folk/country brew making me think of a somewhat strange mixture of (minimalist) Lambchop, Morphine, Will Oldham/Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Papa M, and related stuff. Spiced up with a teaspoon mixture of the Velvet Underground and the For Carnation. And Hank Williams - as done by the Residents.

"Industry and Snow" is a more punchy/rocky song, while the long, calm ballad "No Light To Be Found (Fare Thee Well Faith, The Path Is Yours)" is the peak of the album. "Three Days, Four Nights" starts out almost like a potential (alternative) 'hit', almost coming out in into daylight before crawling back into the dark. "As You Do" is more of a trad. tear-stained country ballad. "We Are The Wreckage" is also a regular ballad, but the male/female voice duet lifts the song and makes it a more elfish piece. Nice.

So, after spinning Cathedral some times I'm still not sure what I feel or think of it. It's fascinating material but it feels more like a blurred mystery, some foggy tales from the crypt. Guess I have to dig deeper to unveil some more of it. And check out the coming album as well.

Copyright © 2005 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Castanets article/review: First Light's Freeze.

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