Castanets First Light’s Freeze

[Asthmatic Kitty; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: drone on both sides, fusion-y free-jazz on the flip
Others: Jewelled Antler peeps, Sonny Sharrock

First Light's Freeze is an entirely apt name for Castanet's third full-length album, summing up its overall mood. Whereas the prior album Cathedral didn't call to mind hymns of praise so much as music to be dreary to in a backwoods log cabin, First Light's Freeze is a continuation of that sound, both colder and brighter. The album is split fairly evenly between stripped-down dirges that feature voice and strummed guitar for the most part, and more structured 'songs' where a larger band steps into the picture. While the Castanets' two different sounds, I believe, are meant to complement each other, this time around the 'songs' are filled with such beauty as to nearly capsize their more meandering brethren. Right near the very end, the two tracks "No Voice Was Raised" and "All That I Have Known To Change In You" are the strongest examples, threatening to blow the rest of the album away. The former begins with a stronger melody than anything prior, and a notably brisker pace facilitated by a drum machine. The song gradually builds to the point where live drums and noisy guitars round out the track in particularly dramatic form. "All That I Have Known...," on the other hand, is much more lush than anything on the album. Probably the most lovely song frontman Raymond Raposa has written thus far, its strength prompted repeated listenings after the first time hearing it. None of this is meant to imply that there isn't beauty to be found in the other tracks, but rather that Raposa's strength might lie in melancholy pop songs, and at that, he might be peerless.

1. (The Waves Are Rolling Beneath Your Skin)
2. Into The Night
3. A Song is Not the Song of the World
4. Good Friend, Yr. Hunger
5. (We Drew Uncertain Breath)
6. Bells Aloud
7. First Light's Freeze
8. Evidence (A Mask of Horizon, Distortion of Form)
9. No Voice Was Raised
10. (Migration Concentric
11. All That I Know to Have Changed In You
12. Dancing With Someone (Privelege of Everything)
13. Reflecting in the Angles