Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Music I Liked And Didn't - 3/28/07

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CASTRO, NICK, AND THE YOUNG ELDERS: Come Into Our House DLP + 7-EP (Daffodelic) - Local artist and talented multi-instrumentalist (guitars, saz, oud, harmonium, and so on), Nick Castro, returns with “Come Into Our House”, a deluxe gatefold, double LP package that includes a bonus 7” EP of material not included on the CD version of this release. Despite the presence of a new all-star cast of supporting players, not a lot has changed in the sonic world of Nick Castro since I last heard from him.

About half the material on this release is, unfortunately, dedicated to the exploration of Castro’s ongoing obcession with the precious folk balladry that was popular in the UK during the late 60’s/early 70’s. Not that it isn’t quite well done, with a diverse array of cool instrumentation and lush production values, I just personally find the majority of such tracks to be fairly derivative and uninspiring. Only “Picolina”, is really a success, as it has a more contemporary acid folk sound (think Espers) that seems more like it was merely inspired by those classic UK folk sounds, rather than being a slavish attempt to replicate them.

The remaining material, fortunately, saves the day and secures this album a place in my library. “Attar” is a majestic eastern-influenced instrumental. It is followed by the unique “Voices From The Mountains”, which begins with with an extended segment of trippy, prepared piano before eventually shifting gears radically to conclude with an atmospheric and mystical Eastern European folk inspired segment featuring only ukelin (!) and percussion. The highlights of this release, however, have got to be the three eastern-influenced psychedelic ragas. “Promises Unbroken” is more organic, acoustic in nature, featuring droning harmonium, a variety of exotic stringed instruments (celtic harp, tamboura, cello, and so on), and lots of hand percussion. “Lay Down Your Arms” and “It’s All A Dream” both use a similar approach, but are “electrified” with excellent fuzz/wah snake charmer leads.

While “Come Into Our House” is clearly a release of mixed and limited success, I do think that, overall, it is Castro’s best work to date and it does offer the promise of better things to come; especially if he is willing to free himself from his self-imposed stylistic prison of UK folk balladry and really let his impressive musicianship fly his freak flag high.

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Running Count For The Year

Adds 45/83%

Did Not Add 9/17%

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