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(40:32, Declassified Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. BBA 6:53 2. Sex Me Up 4:16 3. Hair of the Dog 5:26 4. Let ‘em Drown 3:49 5. Ballad of Wealth 6:33 6. Man in the Middle 5:04 7. Groove Snake 3:20 8. The One Percenters 5:11 LINEUP: Neil Citron – guitars; keyboards Percy Jones – bass; keyboards Walter Garces – drums
Prolusion. The Transatlantic trio BANGTOWER consists of bassist Percy Jones, drummer Walter Garces and guitarist Neil Citron, and has been categorized as something of a supergroup. "Castin Shadows" is their debut album, released in the fall of 2010.
Analysis. A lot has been said and written about supergroup projects over the years. From Cream to GTR and beyond, such constellations have generally been a hit and miss affair where the latter tends to be the case to a much greater degree than the former. But when such bands really hit it off, the end results can be magnificent. Transatlantic is arguably the best known example in progressive rock circles today, mostly because they have a broad reach, I suspect. And while I doubt that the multinational band Bangtower will ever be as popular, it is another fine example of how well a supergroup-branded constellation can work out. Eight tracks that clock in just over the 40-minute mark is what Bangtower presents us with, and this is one of those CDs where time fly by in an instant, and the universe takes a breather while you enter this particular part of the art rock realm. This is an instrumental production through and through, and I suspect that quite a lot of the material is of at least a partially improvised nature. Citron's guitar is the dominating instrument throughout, but his bandmates Garces and Jones get ample opportunities to flaunt their wares too, particularly Jones. In style they opt for a sound I'd describe as hard-edged fusion, where the fretless bass in particular caters for the jazz-tinged parts of the proceedings. Sticksman Garces has a more careful role, although his tightly controlled performance will occasionally shoot out into a careful effect or an explosive drum roll, sometimes also in a jazz-oriented direction. Citron's role is more of a flamboyant one, zigzagging across multiple stylistic borders from the album kicks off until the echoes of final piece The One Percenters ebbs out. My impression about this production has steadily grown since I first encountered it, and Citron's non-style bound performance is a major reason for this. He can shred as good as most metal axemen around, but is just as good when hitting off on a harmony solo, providing a dark-tinged, gritty subservient riff pattern or careful, light-toned guitar motifs of a delicate, frail nature. Dissonant effects and subtle, nuanced details come just as easy to his instrumentalist, and he takes care to use as much of his repertoire as possible within each and every track. At least as long as whatever run he's on fits the basic framework of the proceedings: adventurous, innovate and highly skilled. And whenever Citron doesn't dominate the proceedings, Jones is ready with a compelling bass motif or a solo run of his own – melodic, probably pretty flamboyant, and at all times in tight interaction with Garces’ carefully controlled drum patterns. Bass lovers will most likely drool over a creation like Man in the Middle, where Jones is the guy running most of the show with a fat, magical lead motif, but while this is the case where he's most up-front, there are plenty of other occurrences both brief and more elongated in nature where the fretless bass comes to its right in a splendid manner. Some of the compositions tend to roam a bit too freely around for my taste, but that is a minor issue. It's not that often that I get the chance to cover a CD that makes me grin like a lunatic from the first few opening seconds until the final note ebbs out, but "Casting Shadows" is such a production. And I'm somewhat amazed that it isn't much better known than it is of current.
Conclusion. If you enjoy instrumental progressive rock and don't mind some carefully controlled excursions into fusion territories, Bangtower is a band you need to check out, and "Casting Shadows" is a disc most of the people who check it out will desire to own. A highly recommended CD, where most of the pieces merit a description as brilliant.
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