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Cast - Landing In A Serious Mind CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.05 | 29 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Mexico may not be the most recognized nation on Earth when it comes to the subject of progressive rock but the fact is that dozens of bands have emerged from Latin America's most northern nation in the past decades including bands like Nazca, Cabezas de Cera, Decibel, Nirgal Vallis, Hummus, 0.720 Aleacion and many others. While most of these bands formed in the Mexico City area, the true hub of international influence, others found their way into the genre in the more remote regions. CAST is one of those bands that is from Mexicali which sits on the border with the USA across from California's Imperial Valley which sits west of San Diego.

The band was founded all the way back in 1978 by keyboardist Alfonso Vidales who fell in love with the Anglo sounds of Genesis. With the first lineup the band put together a self-released album called 'Complot' which has all but disappeared into the great annals of time and the 80s would see the band going through various lineups with long time drummer Antonio Bringas joining the cast as well as guitarist / vocalist Francisco Hernandez. flautist / vocalist Dino Brasse and bassist Rodolfo Gonzalez who would all find their way onto the band's true debut album LANDING IN A SERIOUS MIND which wouldn't be released until 1994.

This debut album opened many doors for the band as they received international recognition which landed them an invitation to the Pre-Progfest festival in the Barndall Theater in Los Angeles where mostly European bands performed leaving CAST as the only bona fide version of 'Baja-Prog' on the entire scene from an area much more associated with Tex-Mex and mariachi bands. LANDING IN A SERIOUS MIND sounds like it could've come from anywhere in jolly old England without a lick of Mexican or Spanish cultural identifying features. The lyrics are all in English and the band's sound is primarily based on keyboard rich prog from 70s Genesis as well as the 80s neo-prog scene from the usual suspects such as Marillion, Pallas, IQ and Twelfth Night.

LANDING IN A SERIOUS MIND is a lengthy album for 1994 extending just past the 69 minute mark and is characterized by a strong interplay of keyboards, guitars and vocals and while the band may have been inspired by neo-prog actually delivers more impressive prog twists and turns with crazy time signatures and soloing outbursts which is dominated by Vidales' keyboard skills. Compositionally speaking CAST does sometimes sound a bit too much like early Genesis but the energetic deliveries and angularities actually remind me a bit of the Swiss band Island especially with Hernandez' rather intense vocal style. The album has ten tracks with with only one track hitting the ten minute mark: the eleven minute 'Just Another Way.'

The debut album by CAST is surprisingly a really good one. The band's lengthy existence between its formation and this debut album meant a good decade plus allowed the tightening of the skills needed to compete in the Euro-centric prog world and CAST pulls it off amazingly well. The instrumental interplay is the key to the success of this one with all the musicians finding ways to insert their own personal fills while not derailing the flow. While most tracks are vocal led, there are many instrumental outbreaks that allow a stampeding flow of rock energy to dominate. 'Just Another Way' is a personal favorite as it the melodramatic changes of 'Athens.' While the guitars can adopt a recognizable Steve Hackett soaring effect, they can also be more in the vein of traditional hard rock showing that CAST were adopting heavier rock elements before English neo-prog bands were jumping on board.

In addition to having crafted 20 studio albums since this debut was released in 1994, CAST has also been instrumental in hosting the annual Baja Prog festival in their native Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico which features bands from not only Latin America but from all over the entire globe. While i would probably classify this debut more as neo-prog than symphonic the truth is it really lies somewhere in between, in that gray area where the two someone magically and mysteriously pass the baton but whatever you want to tag this, it is certainly some excellent melodic keyboard led prog that takes 70s Genesis sounds to an alternate universe and in the process sounds like a CAST of seasoned veterans from the very start.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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