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Cast (Mexico)
Overall View

Discography:

1985+1993 - "Sounds of Imagination" (68 min, 'Alfonso 002')
****

1993 - "Landing On a Serious Mind" (69 min, 'Alfonso 001')
****

1989+1994 - "Third Call" (66 min, 'Alfonso 003')
*****

1994 - "Four Aces" (68 min, 'Alfonso 004')
****+

1995 - "Endless Signs" (67 min, 'Alfonso 005')
******

1996 - "Beyond Reality" (62 min, 'Alfonso')
*****+

1997 - "Angels And Demons" (73 min, 'Alfonso')
******

1999 - "Imaginary Window" (69 min, 'Alfonso' / "Musea")
*****

2000 - "Legacy" (73 min, 'Alfonso' / "Musea")
******


Cast online:
http://www.1russ.com/cast.htm
http://www.bajaprog.com/cast.htm


Overall prologue. This is a story of Cast, a living progressive rock legend from Mexico. They formed in the far off 1979 and made their first recordings already in the next 1980. During the following 22 years they have worked in the studio more than once and produced recordings, most of which were included in their first four official CDs. In 1993, at last, Cast completed the work at the creation of their own studio (and 'label') of the same name and starting from 1994 they have released a series of albums, most of which have already become real classics for the future.


1985+1993 - "Sounds of Imagination" (68 min, 'Alfonso 002')
****


Tracklist:



1.  Double Show 4:34

2.  Tribute 5:09

3.  Witness 3:50

4.  Dragon's Attack 7:16

5.  Walking in the Air 4:21

6.  The Man 5:04

7.  After All 6:02

8.  Chance Will Stay 6:29

9.  So United 4:10

10. French Boyce 3:12

11. One More to the Goal 3:46

12. A Run in the Rain 10:48



Tracks 1-7 recorded at "Rose" studios,

El Centro, CA, USA, in 1985.

Recorded by Danny Berg.

Music by A.Vidales. Arranged & produced by Cast.

Lyrics by:

1,3,4,5,7 - A.Vidales/F.Hernandez

2 - by A.Vidales

6 - by F.Hernandez



Line-up (tracks 1-7):

Alfonso Vidales - keyboards

Francisco Hernandez - vocals; guitars (3,5)

Rodolfo Gonzalez - bass

Enrique Slim - drums

Javier Rosales - guitars

Marcos Castro - guitars (6,7) 



Tracks 8-12 recorded at "Cast" studios,

Mexicali, Baja-CA, Mexico, in 1993. 

Recorded by Cesar Cardenas & Patricia Sanchez.

Music by A.Vidales. Arranged & produced by Cast.

Lyrics by:

9,12 - Agustin Vidales

10 - A.Vidales

8 - F.Hernandez



Line-up (tracks 8-12):

A.Vidales - keyboards

F.Hernandez - guitars, vocals (12)

Rodolfo Gonzalez - bass

Antonio Bringas - drums

Dino Brassea - vocals; flute 

The Album. Although officially "Sounds of Imagination" is numbered as the second in the Cast's catalogue- discography, it contains in reality 7 songs (LP, actually) from their very first serious studio work in 1985. This album contains the most accessible compositions the band ever created, and each following work (except "Landing On a Serious Mind", - the Cast 'official' debut album of 1993) shows their constant growth to become one of the best contemporary progressive rock bands with the creative pick on "Legacy" in 2000 (in my view, of course). Despite the presence of some Genesis / Marillion influences on the early albums, they were never a wanna-be band, and their original way of composing, arrangement and perfomance is evident already (even!) on the first seven tracks on "Sounds of Imagination". All of them, to begin with Double Show and to conclude with After All, contain a great deal of accessible yet interesting arrangements and solos, which makes them a work of Classic Symphonic Progressive Rock rather than Neo, though stylictically and structurally they are in the vein of mid-to-late Genesis. This was a right step. Since that old great band got mad, Marillion was the first succesful band to fill the unique stylistical niche. But after Marillion with "Afraid of Sunlight" went in their turn the commercial way too, it was now the Cast's turn to lead this very special movement within the progressive genre, though with a particularity. Unlike both Genesis and Marillion, the members of Cast led by the mastermind Alfonso Vidales have remained true to the principle for more than 30 years, and each their new work makes sure they will never surrender. It is obvious that the "rest" five songs from the "Sounds of Imagination" album, recorded in 1994, were specially composed in the same manner as first seven.

VM. March 10, 2000

Musea Records
content


1993 - "Landing On a Serious Mind" (69 min, 'Alfonso 001')
****

"Landing on a Serious Mind" album, the first album that Cast composed, performed and recorded in its entirety in 1993, is actually their third one. Without doubt, this is a more mature work than "Sounds of Imaginations" (but I wouldn't say the same regarding "Third Call"), though it consists mostly of lighter songs recorded somewhere in the vein of early-to-mid Marillion (i.e. before their most serious "Brave" album was released) and Genesis circa 1980 ("Duke"). Well, I'll show my (Cast!) cards beforehand: "Landing On a Serious Mind" is the only (!) Cast album made "according to the unwritten laws" of Neo-Prog. I assert that this one is really Cast's only Neo ProGduct, although most of 'my brothers in pen' call Cast a Neo band with a strange and stubborn monotony and, at the same time, they write "Symphonic Progressive" (i.e. Classic) telling of typical Neo-s and there are plenty of such reviews-examples on the web and on the pages of magazines. About "Landing On a Serious Mind" it's necessary to say the next. Although the 'level of complexity' of this album surpasses only that of "Sounds of Imagination", the increased mastership of each Cast musician and new technological possibilities of their own studio as well (the guys built this studio practically with their own hands) make it one of the most interesting work within the frame of Neo Progressive in the mid 1990s. By the way, all these traditional (Genesis - Marillion) influences aren't as obviously noticeable on "Landing On a Serious Mind" as on the albums of many other Neo bands (I won't list them here, as I'm already tired of doing so in other reviews.)

VM. July 11, 2001

Musea Records
content


1989+1994 - "Third Call" (66 min, 'Alfonso 003')
*****

As well as in case with the "Sounds of Imagination" album, about a half of the "Third Call" album's songs had been composed, performed, recorded and 'hidden' ('till better times*) before Cast released their first "official" album "Landing On a Serious Mind" in 1993*. So, these better *times came four years later and, I think, it happened thanks to these guys' belief in themselves and their sincere belief in God as well, in respect of that just have a read at their lyrics attentively. Back in 1989, Cast got a possibility to enter a studio for more serious sessions there for the second time in their lives. The results of these several hours of studio work in 1989 sounds on the first half of the "Third Call" CD. Many Prog-lovers, and especially those who have all Cast's CDs on their shelves, know that no Cast CDs sounds less than 66 minutes. In other words, there are (only!) double albums (LP talk) in the Cast discography, so this band is probably a one of a kind phenomenon in the history of Rock music in general. Back to the Cast second serious work in the studio, all tracks recorded in 1989 represent very mature music and not only in comparison with their first compositions that Cast recorded back in 1985. These (basic!) tracks of the "Third Call" CD show a giant leap forward for the band (for just three or four years!) both in the composition and performance. So already then, over ten years ago, Cast composed and performed thoughtful, complex, intricate and, at the same time, very interesting music - true Classic Art (Symphonic) Rock at its best. And there were at least a dozen bands that played Classic Art Rock by the end of the 1980s and only few of them, perhaps, were of the same high 'ProGfessional' quality as Cast (at the moment I personally remember only Sieges Even's "Steps" of 1990, not to count ABWH and other 'post-Titanic' efforts to create something more or less of value). Of course, in order to make a 'double' long-playing CD, as always, in 1994 Vidales composed a few additional songs and did it in the vein of the CD basic tracks recorded in 1989. Although the musicianship of each separate Cast member then wasn't as masterly as in the middle of the 1990s, their excellent joint performance and brilliant arrangements make "Third Call" one of the five or six Cast best albums in their current discography (to me, this is the fifth best one).

VM. July 10, 2001

Musea Records
content


1994 - "Four Aces" (68 min, 'Alfonso 004')
****+

Six of the eight songs that feature the Cast (now really) fourth album were recorded in the same year of 1994. The two remaining songs have been recorded sometime by the very end of the 1980s and I am still under impression that all these new six songs were written in the same way (that is, with the same purpose) as it was the case with the "Third Call" album. (As you may know, the way of composing of new songs for their sound and stylistics to be close to the Cast early songs was used in the process of completing the "Sound of Imagination" album too, but these two early works of 1985 and 1989 are too different from themselves in respect of the quality of music). To these ears "Third Call" and "Four Aces" musically and stylistically are as similar in their sound as if they had really been recorded right one after another, within the relatively same time period. Although on "Four Aces" Cast return to their classic progressive roots, this album is a tad inferior to "Third Call" in places, while remaining a very good work. Then, considering "Third Call" the Cast third album, I can make sure that beginning with this album Cast became huge and are one of the most strong and interesting bands within the Classic Progressive camp now.

VM. July 12, 2001

Musea Records
content


1995 - "Endless Signs" (67 min, 'Alfonso 005')
******

he fifth Cast album "Endless Sign", entirely recorded and released in the same 1995, became the band's first album freed of any additional tracks from the past. At the same time, this album came to be the band's best album at the time and it remains one of the Cast best albums to date (at least for me). As well as to a lot of other reviewers, it's obvious to me that Cast, led by mighty composer and virtuoso keyboard player Alfonso Vidales, are not only inspired, but also influenced by the music of the great Genesis. And yet, reading and re-reading the various reviews on Cast's albums in various virtual and paper Prog-sources, I wonder why almost all 'my brothers in Prog-pen' describe Cast as just another one Genesis-alike band, - as if Cast's music were really something unoriginal at all. The most interesting thing in the case of Cast is that most prog-reviewers repeat one another almost word by word. It's the easiest way to describe a band by comparing it to another band that is known more widely, etc, etc (I'm not talking about apparent wanna-bees). Also I wonder why nobody sees that, few cliches aside, Alfonso uses a lot of his very own, original and enjoyable keyboard moves, passages and solos on each Cast album ever recorded, including even the band's first real album "Sounds of Imagination"? So, don't you really hear anything, apart from similarities to Genesis, in Alfonso's works? Then you should cry at the top of your voice: "My poor ears! What's happened to my poor ears?!" Sadly, doctors are powerless to help you with this problem. How can they help you if you don't really know where you've lost your ears? You say you didn't lose them? Then where you've heard "obvious similarities" between Cast and Genesis on "Legacy" (2000) while I (together with four my close friends who are all great fans of Genesis) find just few illegible traces of the Legend even on "Endless Sign" which was released more than five years ago? In addition, I always remember that Vidales is the main mastermind of the band and the majority of Cast's songs are written by him alone. Also, I can't notice Steve Hackett's silhouette behind the back of Francisco Hernandez whose playing the guitar, at least beginning with this album, is exceptionally original. Well, I have returned to the theme of ubiquitous comparisons by no means for the first time, but I still feel like a dog barking at the moon for no reason (yeah, I feel okay to find myself being compared to a dog- : I consider such a comparison much less abusive than a lot of those that I read on prog pages). Why? Because tomorrow I'll read a lot of other reviews that are full of a lot of other comparisons. I'd better put "Endless Sign" in my CD player to listen to this wonderful, from start to the last note, masterpiece.

VM. July 15, 2001

Musea Records
content


1996 - "Beyond Reality" (62 min, 'Alfonso')
*****+

Being compared to the Cast previous masterpiece, "Beyond Reality" feels more of a mature album in terms of musicianship, though compositionally, I find both these albums equivalent. Also, this is an album that many Prog-reviewers consider a peak of the Cast creation / discography up to now. I am not one of them, though. As far as I remember, this is the only Cast album containing a cover version of a song from the repertoire of another band (Camel, in this case), but I don't like cover bands and cover versions either. Especially I don't like when one of my favourite bands includes in their 'full tracklist' a cover version of a song from the repertoire of another band (Camel, by the way, has also been among the favourite bands of mine some time ago). Maybe, for this album to sound more than an hour, as all others, the guys have decided to add an 'alien' composition to the end of their own material? To me, they have done it just vainly. While all Cast's own songs on this album are real masterpieces I'm inclined to consider an addition of such a bonus track to them just a false finish (which, by the way, has eaten a half of album's sixth rating star.)

VM. July 17, 2001

Musea Records
content


1997 - "Angels And Demons" (73 min, 'Alfonso')
******

The longest one, "Angels And Demons" is a killer album, full of incredibly wonderful music from the first to the last note. After I listened to this album a few times I thought about several reviews on it that I read on different Prog-sites. I still remember how in one of these reviews (most of which, though, are similar like twin brothers in this respect) "Angels And Demons" was compared to "Beyond Reality": "-feel disappointed with this one - just after such a strong album as "Beyond Reality" they're back to a typical Neo". This "quotation" is just "another pearl of the critical thought" from (for!) a gigantic yet unpublished book "Collection of Absurdities". (I've read once that early-to-mid Genesis is also nothing but an early form of Neo Prog: actually this is nothing but some Neo-head's logic that works backwards, don't you think so? Considering "Angels And Demons", "Legacy" and some other albums by Cast as Neo products it's really easy to reach the same conclusion concerning Genesis at its best). Some Prog- reviewers say they just don't have a possibility to listen to a given CD more than once because they receive lots of CDs for their reviews. But if you've listened to "Angels And Demons" just once, you haven't heard it (let alone RIO and complex-to-very-complex music in general). But, despite the fact that you haven't heard it you write a review on it. There are no ProgFessors among us, Prog-reviewers, who could write correct material (in detail, preferably) just after the only listen to any of Cast's albums, not saying of such tough cookies as French TV, Univers Zero, Bondage Fruit, Isildurs Bane and a lot more of the likes. So when you write a review after just one listen to any more or less serious Prog-album you tell your readers lies, but why do you do this? If you really wish the Prog-movement could become larger and stronger in time you shouldn't tell your readers lies because they, as Prog-CDs purchasers, are the main driving force of the development of the Progressive Rock / Music movement. If you've listened to any serious Prog-CD just once, i.e. you haven't heard it, your readers won't find your true thoughts on that CD. Hoping to find there your honest conclusion concerning 'that' album, they'll actually find there just your first (and last, at the same time) reaction to it. In reality, with this album, the wonderfully interesting and diverse "Angels And Demons", Cast left more than a few 'traditional' Prog-lovers scratching their heads, wondering what they had just heard, especially those who'd never listened to Cast before (not to mention the Neonatal Plowmen, i.e. Neo-Prog-lowers). This is by no means your typical, easy-to-describe Neo album, plain like a Neon lamp, - it requires real effort on the part of the listener's brain. Such Cast's albums as the 'hero' of this review "Angels And Demons", "Legacy" (2000) and "Endless Signs" (1995) are true hallmarks of contemporary Classic Art Rock (or Symphonic Progressive) and it turns out that each second Cast album, beginning with "Endless Sign", is a masterpiece of the genre. This is my honest opinion. Of course, anyone of us, including myself, can't be insured from mistakes, but frankly, I just can't write anything different from my true thought, so I try to comprehend any album I listen to before writing a review on it. Back to Cast, I sincerely consider it one of the most underrated bands, - at least regarding the Classic (!) Symphonic Progressive.

VM. July 17, 2001

Musea Records
content


1999 - "Imaginary Window" (69 min, 'Alfonso' / "Musea")
*****

Cast didn't release their regular new album in 1998 for the first time since 1993 which was a year of the beginning of the band's feverish activity (for details click here: "Top"). Actually, that year was dedicated to solo creation and as a result Alfonso Vidales released his second solo album, and Francisco Hernandez his first. Also, that same year the first Cast live (double) album saw the light of day, and the largest Prog-label "Musea" became their bastion in Europe. The "Imaginary Window" album, released next year (1999), is not as even about the quality of the songs as all the other Cast albums beginning with "Endless Sign" (with a possible exception "Beyond Reality" (1996) because all the band's own compositions from this album are of the same status of songs-masterpieces, - for details see review on this album). Opened by an outstanding, wonderful, very progressive instrumental (a real killer) which was followed by a song of the same top quality (of masterpiece), the "Imaginary Window" album is not a masterpiece as a whole. Although there are no less than three songs-masterpieces more among the following eight tracks, the remaining five compositions are just of the good-to-very good quality. But such a constant alternation of excellent albums and masterpieces since 1995 just represents Cast as one of the most strong and important bands of contemporary Classic Symphonic Progressive.

VM. July 18, 2001
content


2000 - "Legacy" (73 min, 'Alfonso' / "Musea")
******


Proemio           2:21

Legacy-s Executor 9:19

Key of Life       9:30

Celestial Garden  4:03

Magic of Love     6:58

Personal Status   4:30

We Are the Ones   5:54

Take a Look Back  7:41

Beneficiaries     4:22

Living Dreams     1:26

Before Me         4:04

The Will          4:40

Conclution        7:41



Line-up:

Alfonso Vidales - keyboards

Francisco Hernandez - electric & acoustic guitars,

                      vocals

Antonio Bringas - drums & percussion

Rodolfo Gonzalez - bass

Dino Brassea - flute, vocals



Music by A. Vidales, except:

7 & 10 (by F. Hernandez),

8 (by F. Hernandez & A. Vidales), 

& 6 (by A. Bringas & A. Vidales).



Arranged by Cast.

Lyrics by F. Hernandez, except:

1 (by A. Vidales).



Recorded at "Castudio",

Mexicali, Baja California,

October 1999 to February 2000.

Engineered & mixed by C. Julio Camacho.

Since their first serious studio sessions in 1985 Cast have changed the principal direction of their music more than once. These changes were actually slight yet obvious, at least to this writer, so I think I have to illustrate this theme in a little more detailed a way in the Summary. Back to changes in the music of Cast, for the last time they did so exactly on their so far latest album "Legacy". I know that regarding this album I'll just repeat some words and terms you've read already, maybe, tens of times. So consider my description of the "Legacy" album's character just another confirmation of what you've already read about. Well, it's obvious that the "Legacy" CD contains the most symphonic music Cast ever composed and performed. The musicianship of each Cast member and their joint performance as well reach for quite extreme marks on this album. As for the band's main mastermind Alfonso Vidales, he's become a true keyboard wizard and his solo acrobatics are, in their own ways, equal to real stunts, and he is now on par with the majority (if not all) of the best keyboardists who ever rocked on Earth. To me, with the release of "Legacy" Cast have crowned all their creation and, this way, the progressive significance of such gems from the band's past as "Angels And Demons" and "Endless Signs" is just accentuated.

VM. July 31, 2001

Musea Records
content


Overall summary. Part 1
Now, surveying the Cast creation from the "pitch" of today, I've found some five different phases of it. First of all, these phases (or periods) quite clearly reflect some not too distinct yet obvious changes of the music of Cast. In many ways, these phases reflect the development of the band's compositional and performing capabilities too (not to count a couple slight exceptions that are mainly connected with few confusions (on my part) concerning the order of releasing the albums). Well, then, according to me, Cast's real first album, structurally quite an amorphous and accessible "Sounds of Imagination", forms Phase 1. "Landing On a Serious Mind" of 1993 is already structured very well. This is, however, the only Cast album that was composed according to the unwritten laws of Neo, but not to the original laws of Cast. So this is not the only one (of the first two) of the band's most accessible albums, it even differs from all the other Cast albums - quite radically, especially in sound and, of course, in composition. Thus, "Landing On a Serious Mind", along with its predecessor, shapes Phase 2 alone. Musically (generally!) similar among themselves quite obviously, "Third Call", "Four Aces" and "Endless Signs" albums are permanent 'inhabitants' of Phase 3. Once again, Cast's three following "musical shells" (I just remembered how the Samkha members describe their music) have formed Phase 4. The latest Cast album "Legacy" has created Phase 5. That's for sure, and time will tell what follows...

Overall summary. Part 2
The most well-known of the unknown live legends of the Classic Art Rock, Cast release albums at their own expense. They have existed for over 20 years already. Surprisingly prolific regarding the quantity of the musical material (plus each album sounds for more than an hour, at least) as well as the quality. Guys, those who love the early Genesis, Marillion-1994-"Brave" & Xitizen Cain of 1994 & 1997, look for this "caste" band by all possible means! It's the "highest caste" of Classic Art Rock. Being inspired by the early Genesis, they, unlike the "once great band", haven't come short of breath at all even for twenty years.


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