Oro Cassini — First Impact
(Bandcamp no#, 2017, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, 2017-10-07:
Austin is turning into quite the hotbed of progressive rock bands, with Opposite Day, Proud Peasant, Aaron Clift Experiment, and more. Add Oro Cassini to that list. Musically, they’re cut from the same cloth as Opposite Day, with guitar-driven songs featuring tricky arrangements and energetic playing. The four-piece consists of Chris Holt (lead vocals, guitar), Kevin Spencer (guitar), Lance Salamanca (bass), and Alec Moreno (drums), and it’s possible that Holt’s vocals will be a sticking point for some listeners. He’s definitely up in the tenor range, not far removed from Geddy Lee’s tone, though his projection is strong and both pitch and expression are excellent, so I have no problems with him. The music is by and large song-based, with tracks in the four to seven minute range with a couple of exceptions. Much of the time, one guitar will be playing chords while the other engages in elaborate tapped arpeggios, and the interaction between the two parts is very nicely done. It’s a little similar to the way many of The Mercury Tree’s songs are constructed. “Three Magi” comes in at 12:34 and is probably the highlight of the set, with a middle section that grooves nicely in 9/8 and builds up to a screaming wah-wah guitar solo. The second half dives into a great 6/4 riff with some amazing interplay of bass and drums — Moreno really kicks butt here. The song finishes with a section featuring uncharacteristically jazzy guitar chords, providing a nice contrast. “Blank Faces” has some more nice guitar arranging, with phrases jumping out almost like a modern take on Wishbone Ash’s twin-lead sound. I really like the way chords are voiced on the guitars, almost always using positions other than open or standard barres. Of the generation of American progressive rock bands coming after The Mars Volta, Oro Cassini is a fine example, well worth attention beyond their hometown.
by Henry Schneider, 2017-10-07:
I do not understand this trend by some of today’s bands to create music where the vocal line is so “progressive” that it defies what we have come to accept as song structure and ends up being academic, sterile, and unenjoyable. To me it sounds like the band is just singing and playing notes, not randomly, but of such complexity that it is hard to follow. And I cannot imagine how the vocalist can even learn and memorize what he or she is supposed to sing. Progressive music grew out of the psychedelic movement in the late 60s with British bands forming in art school, employing complex arrangements, and referencing classical music. There were lots of experimental ideas being explored through different instrumentations and the advent of affordable synthesizers. Today there is an element of musicians and bands that appear to be distancing themselves further from the past, but unlike their predecessors, their music has an extremely limited appeal, the music is not suitable for singing, and sometimes the vocalist is not suited for the lead vocals. Personally I prefer instrumentals over songs, and when I find the vocals annoying, they just get in my way. All of this brings me to the debut release of a new band from Austin, TX, Oro Cassini. I truly tried hard to appreciate this new release, I really did. I was sorely tempted to write them off after only making it halfway through the disc, but I soldiered through the music. Oro Cassini is Chris Holt (vocals and guitar), Kevin Spencer (guitar), Lance Salamanca (bass), and Alec Moreno (drums). The album begins with “Grayscale" with a reverbed guitar intro launching into an alt rock ballad. But then Chris’s nasal tenor voice enters and all bets are off the table. Kevin, Lance, and Alex rock when there are no vocals, turning a bit dissonant and raucous. Their opus “Three Magi” has a beautiful guitar intro, but the arrangement is such that each musician is not given any space, they are too mashed up and Chris’ voice caused me to lose interest with nothing of note for the first nine minutes, then miraculously the music turns jazzy for the final three minutes and redeems itself. The rest of the disc is more the same, and sounds more like the band is improvising rather than having a structure or idea of a composition. There are moments of brilliance peppered through out, but not enough to please this jaded reviewer. My advice to Oro Cassini is to not try so hard to be “progressive.” Relax and learn from the past and extend what others have done, do not go so far out there that you lose the listener.
Related artist(s): Oro Cassini
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - Grand Opening and Closing – It sounds cheesy to admit but the cover art for this CD is what I thought most impressive about it. Independent releases are usually fraught with problems in presentation. But SGM come at you with a... (2001) » Read more