On july 1st 2000 the Mexican band Cast recorded a live concert they performed in Italy. It was released on CD by Musea under the title “Castalia”. This cd is actually my first real acquaintance with Cast. I had heard some of their music earlier and that sounded pleasant, but this is the first full album of them I listened to. Cast is making records/cd’s since 1978 and their keyboards dominated music shows inspiration from Genesis, ELP and IQ. The musicians playing at this concert are Antonio Bringas on drums, Dino Brassea on vocals and flute, Rodolfo Gonzales on bass, Francisco Hernandez on guitar and most of the lead vocals and last but not least Alfonso Vidales on keyboards. As he is responsible for all the music of Cast, it is not surprising that his keyboards play a central role in the music of Cast.
The cd opens with an instrumental track called “Introduction” that begins easy with a flute theme that reminds of Camel. After about one minute it evolves in a more up tempo part, that is illustrating for most other up speed parts of the album: very intense drumming and fast successive notes that after a while make me a bit nervous. It also shows the rather supporting role of the guitarist and the bass player.
That Cast is vocally crafted shows at first in the second track “Hidden poems” that opens with a very nice duellish instrumental part. The two vocalists are capable of singing very good polyphonic parts. Nice piano and flute parts, the latter sometimes in the style of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. This song certainly has a dramatic and emotional atmosphere.
Especially in the third track “Legacy Medley” the polyphonic vocals are very good. This is certainly one of the best tracks of the cd, not only because of the strong vocals, but also because of the more easy and emotional feelings this song displays and the pleasant recurring theme, by turns played on piano, organ and synthesizer. As in the second track the vocal parts are interchanged with more intense instrumental parts. The sometimes high pitched voices at the end of the song sound like there also is a female singer present: the two vocalists of the band are certainly doing an good job. A nice guitar solo with ELP like organ support and, alas, again the more or less nervous drumming announces the end of the song that is a reprise of the main theme.
Track 4 is sung in Spanish, although the title is in English: “Simple things”. This is a primarily vocal song, sung by Dina Brassea with accompaniment of piano and strings and some march-like drumming.
Track 5 “Revealing signs of love” opens in the same piano-and-strings-style and also has some nice polyphonic vocal parts, but speeds up in the second half with again a nice instrumental part dominated by the keyboards of Alfonso Vidales.
Track 6 is, as track 3, a medley called “Reality or Misantrophy Medly”, with a running time of 17 minutes. Again a pattern we have heard before: a more quiet vocal introduction followed by an instrumental part, then again a vocal intermezzo and so on. Especially in this track I get a little bored with the ever recurring fast played themes. Again some Tullish flute parts besides the Keith Emerson organ. In the second half of this track the vocals are not strong, but perhaps it is my problem that I don’t like shouting. A short dark theme towards the end, with a more present bass (that in the rest of the recording might have been more present) is followed by a semi-acoustic guitar solo in the vein of Camel and then again a more fast paced keyboard finale. Quite a dynamic song with many changes in tempo.
The album finishes with the instrumental “Moving Universe” that opens with a nice theme played on the flute accompanied by piano and strings, but is again followed by a nervous making fast paced part. Happily this part doesn’t last too long and evolves in the final part of the song that shows a more important role for the guitar, with nice keyboard layers underneath. The more heavy flute parts remind not only of Jethro Tull, but also of Focus. A nice song to end the concert with.
This cd shows that Cast performs well live and (at last on this recording) with a good overall sound. If you like the reference bands mentioned and especially keyboard oriented neoprog with fast movements, you will certainly enjoy this Cast concert. Because of the strong live vocal parts I rate this cd a less more than average: 3 ½ stars.