The opening track ‘Foresteering’ has a real 60’s chic not too dissimilar to early Pink Floyd or The Monks after a bong. I can hear essences of LOVE coming through too and a rare Moody Blues influence which is always exciting to hear. Minimal and enchanting.
‘Tynnu Tuag At Y Diffeithwch’ had me boppin’ along, thinking about Super Furry Animals in their wonder years and I don’t know if it’s the vocals but, coupled with the fact I don’t speak Welsh, it does have glimmers of Gruff Rhys coming through. It’s good to hear production on a recording that shows off its lo-fi roots and this doesn’t fail to disappoint. Considering it was recorded in a caravan on a hill, it’s brilliantly done and ‘Yn Galw’ shows off this minimal style perfectly.
As soon as ‘Ar Agor’ began I was instantly transported to 1960’s Italy filled, with woodblocks, drenched in reverb and splattered with vintage harmonies and melodies. There’s a definite theme with these tracks and as we move onto ‘Argau’ it reminds me of how The Cure might sound if they were teleported into some Psychedelic version of My Bloody Valentine played on acoustic guitars. It’s a crazy blend of influences.
I can hear The Beatles seeping through in ‘Y Sefyllfa’, akin to ‘Julia’. The ending reminds me of Grandaddy with its little blippy, dotted keyboard noises which is always a bonus because everyone should have at least one Grandaddy record in their collection.
‘Amcanu’ is a weird blend of synths and percussive drums shrouded in reverberated harmonies and sultry singing. With twinkles of Stereolab, Broadcast and Optiganally Yours, it gives a nod to some modern bands too, like Temples and Tame Impala. By this point in the album I find myself genuinely wrapped up in their world and what it must be like to be where they are making this recording.
The most challenging part of this album has to be remembering the titles of the songs and learning the lyrics. I need some lessons in Welsh. ‘Ffrwydriadau O Deimladau’ has a bit of a Talking Heads meets XTC vibe about it with lots of upbeat, toe-tapping rhythms and a great bass line, some great drum breaks and really nice guitar/keyboard solos. These guys love that woodblock!
CaStLeS have a distinct style about them and even though each track sounds very similar in some way (reverb all over the vocals, beautifully fingerpicked chords, relaxed and groovy drumming) they all have a little something that sets them apart and fuses them all together. It has to be the Rhodes on ‘Heed Your Desire’ adding that little bit extra and ‘Yno (Canol Y Gwyllt)’ has a lovely thumping, muted bass line that really drives it forwards when it needs to. Thunderclap Newman would be proud.
I would have enjoyed hearing a bit more variation on the tracks, but only because I like to hear bands who push the boundaries and aren’t afraid to experiment. On the whole though, it’s a pleasant listen. It had my imagination lighting up in places and it sounds very authentic.
Given there weren’t many psyche bands from the 60’s singing in Welsh, it gives it that edge over a lot of other stuff out there at the moment. Amidst the shiny, well produced, high octane recordings of the 21st Century, CaStLeS are clearly just gunning on and doing what they want and it shows in this relaxing, inoffensive, sleepy night time concoction of psychedelic 60’s pop.