Castrovalva - Mini Album
By Dudley Baker
Even before you’ve began listening to Castrovalva there is already a vague sense of enormity in the coming experience. Like trying to steer a boat across an ocean, there always the possibility of a massive wave about to hit which slams your little boat and leaves you clinging to an oar. Song titles such as ‘Triceratops,’ ‘Bison Scissor Kick’ and ‘Belhausen’ all help conjure a sense of scale, which is probably why they made this a mini album.
When you put the album on though you see why, and your suspicions are all confirmed. A brief wireless broadcast lulls you into a false sense of security, before pummelling you with ‘Max Rhodes,’ a sort of fuzzy stoner workout reminiscent of that most epic of epic bands Kyuss, praise indeed. But it’s not all mega riffs and fuzz, not ALL… And this is where that illusive and tricky term 'prog' pops up. I don’t mean prog as in Rick Wakeman in a silver cape playing and Minimoog, more the sort of jazzy obscure time signatures that always keeps things fresh. Thankfully, after a brief four numbers we get an interlude of sorts in the way of ‘London Kills Me.’ A sort of ambient respite on a treated organ, a good way of calming your ears down and letting some of those images of erupting volcanoes fade away.
But they’re back again all too soon, and your boat is being thrown about once again in the storm. This time though, you’re clinging to the mast with a massive grin on your face.