Castenarc - Little gods - 1999
The case of Castanarc is really curious. A band that started at the beginning of the 80´s and that has the same or greater quality than the bands of the rebirth of progressive rock is now ignored in comparison with their contemporary bands. In 1984 David Powell (keyboards) and Mark Holiday (voice) created a band whose music -fortunately - continues until our days and in a brilliant situation. Next to David and Mark the band is completed with Neil Duty (guitars), Dave Richie (bass), and Vicenzo Lammi (drums).
"Little Gods" is a conceptual album of 64 minutes inspired by the Scottish highlands and that distills elegance during all the listen, with direct references to Pink Floyd, the Marillion of "Clutching at Straws/Seasons End" but mainly of Camel and Pendragon. The compositive maturity of Castarnac is noticed in the songs and in the format of the compositions since, although the music is framed inside Neoprogressive, we noticed that they have enough personality as to have created their own sound.
In the 20 pieces (19 really since in the minute that lasts "It´s up to you" there is no sound) of "Little Gods", there is space for everything: from instrumental moments a la Camel ("The dream"), delicate pieces that remind us from the calmest Pendragon ("Wake up", maybe too similar, in the beginning, to "Am I really losing you?"; "The sun" (with an exceptional acoustic guitar solo); "The moon"; "Aahhghh!"); some maybe too technological tracks ("You can see our house from here" a clear reference-); and, mainly, pieces that be considered a mixture of serious quality pop -that that was made in the 80´s - blended with exquisite instrumentation ("The sea", "The wind"; "Old air head"; the brilliant "The mountain" (with funk sounds and jazzy moments in the middle of the song); the energetic "The river". The curious note is the hooligan intro to "Come on you reds" that ends up in "The tree", a seemingly simple topic but that includes in its development elements of Pendragon, the ironic broadcast of a soccer game with cheerleaders included, and arrangements a la Jeff Lynne. I am sorry, but I love this kind of things.
I should recognize my ignorance of the previous work of Castanarc, but I can assure you that I will follow them very closely. In a time where neoprog is a continuous repetition of clichés, it is always good to find a classic band. "Little gods" is the ideal album to cleaning your body of an overdose of Anekdoten or Gestalt while you have dinner with your couple, you drive, or, simply, you want to listen to melodic and pleasant music. Not only I grant them three and a half stars -something excellent keeping in mind that I don't like neoprog- but also I eagerly recommend all the fans of bands like IQ or Pendragon to discover this interesting British band. To conclude, a question: why have bands like Pallas or Galahad -tremendously mediocre- been successful while Castanarc are not, when they are hundred of times better?. Injustices of life