Cast — Endless Signs
(Bandcamp no#, 1995, CD / DL)
by Mike Ohman, 1996-03-01:
The perpetually industrious Cast have done it again, with yet another release, Endless Signs. One of the big surprises of Progfest '95, Cast delighted with their strikingly commendable brand of neo-prog. Endless Signs seems to be their breakthrough. Cast's appeal seems to be simple in that they make melodic, obviously Genesis-inspired prog like many other neo-prog bands you'd care to mention, yet they do it very well. Guitarist Francisco Hernandez certainly has his Hackett chops down, while singer Dino Brassea sounds something like IQ's Peter Nicholls (he even sings in English). In fact, prime-era IQ is an estimable comparison, if you can imagine The Wake with all-digital keys, you're halfway there. Speaking of the keyboards, board-man Luis Vidales is certainly one of the most talented players in neo-prog today. His Banks-ian piano phrasings are the unifying element of this album, his digital synth voicings constantly creative. If you have been lamenting the state of the British neo-prog scene, and have been disappointed that they haven't been producing bands of the caliber of IQ anymore, perhaps you have been looking to the wrong place. Cast have really come into their own with this release. Even if you usually find yourself cold towards neo-prog, I have a feeling you may find yourself warming up to this.
by Peter Thelen, 1996-03-01:
Cast has dropped five CDs in just over two years, yet much of that material was recorded in the 80s and early 90s, and not released until now. Endless Signs, however, is their latest release featuring all new material, and shows the band coming into their own, finding the best elements of their sound and refining it into an identifiable style. A quintet that hails from Mexicali, just across the border from California, their sound recalls the best elements of mid-period Genesis (circa A Trick of the Tail, Wind and Wuthering, primarily due to the keys and compositional style), a little of the neo-prog style (accessibility and vocals) as well as trace elements of seventies Italian and Spanish prog (the biting, ever busy fuzz guitar). Endless Signs is a concept album about man's search for spiritual truth, and as such, many of the tunes are tied together by themes that recur throughout the album. The lyrics are in English, and filtered through Dino Brassea's expressive and semi-tortured vocals. Keys are lush and powerful, and provide much of the texture and melodics throughout the eight tracks. Like 70s Genesis, the rhythm section is a powerhouse, yet they know when to show restraint, building up tension while the keys and guitars take the fore. The brightest moments, though, are when the entire band breaks out in a speedy, cohesive frenzy — it's this, more than anything else, that sets Cast apart from all the average neo-proggers, and identifies them more closely with their countrymen Iconoclasta, Delerium, and Praxis. There has also been a very noticeable improvement in sound clarity over the last two albums, this being their best-engineered to date. More than anything, Endless Signs signals the arrival of Cast.
by Mike Grimes, 1996-03-01:
Cast has carved a niche for themselves in the neo-prog scene for good reasons. Their sound is very melodic and flowing. As with almost all bands lumped into the "neo-prog" classification, these guys certainly have their share of the ever-heard Genesis (R.I.P.) influence. If anything though, Cast sounds more like they should be compared to a Tony Banks solo album than any Genesis outing. That's probably because Cast's keyboard player Alfonso Vidales pens all the group's music. As you would probably expect knowing that, the keyboards are the dominant instrument of the group. However, he's not the only good thing. Drummer Antonio Bringas pounds out some hot fills — especially the ones with double bass drums. The fuzz guitar soloing of Francisco Hernandez fits rightly over the top of the other instruments. It would be nice if he used more sounds though. Basically, only one guitar tone is used on solos for the entire album. This is in stark contrast to the many, many keyboard textures utilized in each tune. The musical themes repeat enough to be recognizable, but not so often that they become stale. They reappear in different time signatures and keys — subtle changes to keep the listener alert. If you like some of the more popular neo bands and want to hear a slightly different version of that style of music, Cast just might be for you.
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