Friday, June 27, 2008


The result of three weeks alone in a Nevada desert motel room, City of Refuge, Castanets' fourth full-length for Asthmatic Kitty, blazed into the mind of Ray Raposa with the rising sun. The idea came the morning after an overnight drive with tour companions from Oakland, CA, to Las Vegas, NV; waking in the back seat to a Nevada gas station dawn, Raposa said "here," and as the drive progressed, so did his conviction that this was where he would record the next Castanets album.

He sought and found solitude in a mom and pop motel in Overton, NV - unincorporated, two bars, no stoplight, home of The Lost City Museum - on the edge of Valley of Fire State Park (Moapa Valley to the indigenous peoples), an hour northeast of the surreal derangement of Vegas. Far from distractions and infused with the sense of isolation explored by the songs he'd written for the album, it proved the optimal backdrop. Minimal overdubs by friends Jana Hunter, Sufjan Stevens, Dawn Smithson (Jessamine, Sunn O)))), solo), Scott Tuma (Souled American, Boxhead Ensemble, solo), and co-producer Ero Gray were added later, but the silence of the sparsely populated region underscores the sounds of Raposa's voice and instruments.

Over the course of three albums and myriad EPs, Ray Raposa and cohorts have made a career of crawling out on tenuous limbs, but to the amazement of the crowd below, never falling off. With an uneasy, asymmetric weave of sung songs, chants, electronic noise solos and spaghetti-western guitar interludes, City suggests a film soundtrack, with overture, mood-setting and plot-development songs, intermission, character studies, and themes of resolution and reconciliation.

Castanets will also be releasing Dub Refuge, a dub version of City of Refuge remixed by Ero Gray. Additionally, Castanets has just finished an album of Hank Williams cover songs to be released in the near future.

"The more you listen, the more 'In the Vines' coils around you with its melancholic honesty amid slinking acoustic guitars and embellished, digitally amplified effects. . . The album's Gothic-tinged Americana is an uneasy road but blazes a trail worth exploring, one that is more about the journey and not so much about the destination." -- Michael Williams, Boston Globe

"Castanets Ray Raposa is a proudly bearded visionary from the forest kingdom of Brooklyn, leading his ensemble in dreamy, noisy, elegiac and unabashedly fluthered music of whispered intimacies, cavernous choirs and keening pedal steel." -- LA Times

01. Celestial Shore
02. High Plain 1
03. The Destroyer
04. Prettiest Chain
05. Refuge 1
06. The Quiet
07. Glory B
08. High Plain 3
09. I'll Fly Away
10. The Hum
11. Savage
12. Shadow Valley
13. High Plain 2
14. Refuge 2
15. After the Fall

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