Cast — Beyond Reality
((Not on label) no#, 1996, CD)
by Mike Ohman, 1997-02-01:
Can a band really improve exponentially? Cast proves that it may just be possible. I found it hard to believe that they could do much better than their last album, Endless Signs, but their latest really does improve upon it a good deal. Much of the neo-ish tendencies of earlier albums ("Allow Me" and the like) have been jettisoned in favor of a more full-bodied symphonic sound. As always, Alfonso Vidales' rich, classically-influenced keyboard work anchors the album through the four tracks, three of which are quite long and brimming over with moods and colors. Also included as a bonus track, a cover of the old Camel tune "Another Night," a rather loose interpretation of the original; only the vocal melody hasn't been tampered with, yet it's a very strong, not to mention imaginative, version. If their next album is better than this, my head may explode.
by Mike Grimes, 1997-02-01:
Cast has released some of the more interesting neo-progressive music in the past few years. In many ways, Beyond Reality is similar to last year's Endless Sings. The strong Trick of the Tail era Genesis overtones both compositionally and in guitar and keyboard sounds and styles, the fuzz guitar solo tone as the exclusive guitar timbre, the occasionally Steve Hogarth sounding vocals, the long instrumental sections, the harmony guitar and keyboard lines — all these traits are reminiscent of past Cast releases. However, Beyond Reality is no mere rehash or clone of the group's previous material. Many of the tunes have more complexity, diversity, and go in different directions than the band has shown before. Nearly all of the songs are primarily in either 5, 6, or 7 time signatures (especially 5) or some alternating combination thereof. It is pleasantly surprising to hear more meter changes in their music. The time changes help to keep the long sans-vocal passages flowing and interesting. Cast stretches out more tonally on this album than ever before too by periodically jumping into different modes (Lydian, etc.), not simply sticking with the standard major and minor. Patrons of neo-prog should enjoy Cast. Beyond Reality is evidence that they are getting better with each album.
by Mike McLatchey, 1997-02-01:
If anything, Cast are at least one of the best when it comes to promoting and marketing their music. A hundred "progressive" bands could learn a lot from the way they do things as they've made quite a name for themselves, especially considering how unremarkable and thrown together their early albums are. Fortunately their talent now seems to be quickly catching up to their marketing drive. Cast is of the neo-progressive school roughly in the Pendragon / Marillion vein with an arsenal of metallic digital synth patches guaranteed to leave the analog synthesist cut to a million pieces. Talentwise theres no problem (although vocalists like these reproduce like amoebas), the drummer has lot of interesting riffs and fills oddly like Iconoclasta, and ignoring some of the tones the keys player is also a definite strong point. Musically there’s a lot to offer the symphoprog aficionado; lots of emotionally charged instrumental sections, nice guitar work, odd meters and all along the way you're thinking with a bit of tweaking these guys will be on their way to a masterpiece. Cast are proof that neo-prog doesn't have to be poppy and whiny — good music is good music.
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more