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3 stars CAST first CD was released under their own label in early 1994, and features CAST's current band member lineup. Most notables are the Steve HACKETT influenced guitarist Francisco Hernandez Reyes, the singer Dino Brassea and the talented Alfonso Vidales on keyboards. This album is rather average, and not one of their best releases, although in contains some classic CAST tracks. Best pick: "Not sleeping", "Just another way" and "Athens" (the albums best track).

Report this review (#1939)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Cast is one of the few prog-rock bands from Mexico. And a good one, I must say. The main reason for which I was first interested in the band was that they had pretty good reviews on PA, and that my wife being Mexican, I have also had a special feeling about what will become my second home in some future.

Cast will be a rather prolific band, releasing almost one album during each year of their career (still running to-date). Especially during their first years. Since they played together well before their first release, they probably had lots of material available (six albums, and long ones) in a mere two years !

They will decide to sing in English, for obvious reasons. Big Brother is just North, and to sing in Spanish would have cut them from a huge potential. Still, I do not know how well there are doing in terms of sales since this band is rather discreet : little information on their web-site, little touring in Europe. They are almost unknown over here. Even on this site, very few reviews are posted. Maybe that their lack of commercial success will make them change their minds since they revert to Spanish lyrics later on in their career.

"At Last Alone" is an intrumental number that sounds more like ELP in its introduction. It turns out to be a very light and subtle piece of music int the second part (with some flamenco guitar sounds). It turns out almost like an Italian prog band. Maybe the Latin influence ? One of my fave on this album (but there won't be much).

ELP is also close for "Not Sleeping" : a jazzy intrumental number with good bass and percussion, some marimba (this is a Mexican band, right ?) but emotionless.

The longest piece is "Just Another Way" : it opens on a long (over three minutes) and uniform (dull) church organ intro. The vocal part that follows is nice but a bit boring and monotonous. Some flamenco guitar sound are welcome to bring a bit of diversity but the finale is quite hectic, structureless and flat. I'm afraid that so far this album is not really convincing.

"Reunion" is more appealing : aerial at start, good background piano and a nice bombastic finale (again a la ELP).

This first album is average : it does not contain lots of outstanding numbers (although the opening number is rather nice, with subtle keys in the intro and very inspired vocal part). No bad ones either. The poppy closing number "Chris Col" brings some fresh air in this work.A bit childish maybe.

The architecture of their songs is sometimes complex but the best of their work will be achieved later on.

The main source of inspiration might well be Renaissance and its classical approach but with a male vocalist. Genesis from the "Wind & Wuthering" era as well . But only for a few numbers ("Rest Your Nest" and maybe "Athens") and ELP as I have already mentioned.

This band surely deserves a try but this album is probably not the one I would recommend to discover their work. As I am almost Mexican (half, actually), I will round up this effort to three stars.

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Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars CAST are a mexican band and maybe the most creative one as they have released so far 16 studio albums in fourteen years (!!!) between 1994 and 2008...Creative?Well,listening to the their debut I doubt if this is the right word...It's like a band which wants to play prog but don't know how...The only things that worth in this album is the instrumental ''Athens'' (don't get excited,just an average symphonic prog instrumental track) and a couple of interesting guitar solos and keyboard/piano passages...As for the rest of the album,this is full of cheesy and dull ballad-like tracks and too weak vocals very much in the pop/AOR vein,that I can't listen to them over 3 times...

It's obvious that the band is influenced among others by GENESIS and neo prog in general but they don't know how to create symphonic arrangements...A couple of keyboard or guitar solos mean nothing to me,that ain't prog...Apart from the pop/rock sound this album suffers from really horrible production that makes the whole listening even more painful!...I really can't recommend this album to anyone,even for collectors of the band,as this one has not that much to do with good progressive rock,should be categorized perfectly as a AOR/melodic rock album...1 star only...

Report this review (#184775)
Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars When I read some reviews about CAST'S debut album, I thought that it was mediocre at the best, but still by insistence of a Mexican friend, dared to buy a copy of "Landing on a Serious Mind", something I will never regret, because the album is delightful, the vocals are good, but the instrumental breaks are outstanding.

The excellent interplay between the talented Luis Alfonso Vidales on the keyboards and Francisco HernŠndez Reyes on the guitars is elaborated with undeniable skills and technique. The Mexican elements in the music and the acoustic guitars with Flamenco reminiscences are delicate and introduced in the right moments avoiding abuse, in other words composition and arrangements are absolutely capable.

The album starts with "The Magic is gone" something that I believe is a contradiction with the opener, because the magic is just starting. After a delicate and very original introduction based mostly on keyboards and piano Dario Carlos Brassea in the vocals and Francisco HernŠndez Reyes add a passage clearly reminiscent of PENDRAGON'S "The Masquerade Overture" (Between Paintbox and The Shadow), but then evolves in something different and absolutely fluid, as the song advances, the vocals keep getting better and better and the aggressive guitar makes a perfect complement.

"Rest in Your Nest" starts more or less in Waltz tempo, but as the track advances keeps getting closer to some sort of Pompous Symphonic with echoes of Europe, with Brassea sounding very close (in vocal range and despite the strong accent) to Nick Barrett. Another solid number.

"I Just Wanna Be" brings us back into Neo territory again close to PENDRAGON, but this time to their softer side with sudden and surprising vocal explosions, the drumming by Josť Antonio Bringas collisions with the heavy guitar by the bassist Rodolfo Gonzalez Quiroz and Latin styled keyboards, not as solid as the previous two tracks, but still very good.

"At Last Alone" is a radical change, begins pompous and melancholic simultaneously, the acoustic guitar on the background playing in the vein of Flamenco musicians adds a wonderful touch. After a few seconds the song turns into a powerful ballad with elements borrowed from "A Trick of the Tail", just to change again into an "ALAN PARSONS PROJECT" inspired piece of music with more complexity.. "At Last Alone" changes over and over proving us that this guys know what Progressive Rock means, specially each time Luis Alfonso Vidales uses the Moog with great dexterity.

"Not Sleeping" presents us a different sound, this time they irrupt into Jazz/Fusion territory with some elements of "JEAN LUC PONTY" but with a Latin touch, the drumming by Josť Antonio Bringas is simply spectacular, a frantic violin (probably synthesized because it's not credited) blends perfectly.

"Just Another Way" the longest song in the album, is a pure Symphonic piece of music in which Luis Alfonso Vidales plays an extremely beautiful piano, that blends perfectly with the vocals creating a dramatic and melancholic song with some ELP reminiscences and a lot of CAST make of this song a real pleasure to listen.

"Do What you Like", "Athens", "Reunion" and "Chris de Col" have a lot in common, a clear Symphonic sound. with huge Classical influence and a touch of King Crimson, four tracks that seem taken from another album, to the point that I believe are from a different era of the band, being that CAST story begins in 1978, but this album was only released in 1994, an excellent way to close "Landing on a Serious Mind".

Most reviews I read, describe CAST'S debut as a mediocre album, something with what I totally disagree, maybe their later albums are even better, but "Landing on a Serious Mind" is a strong album from start to end with no weak moments, and that in my opinion deserves no less than four very solid stars.

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Posted Saturday, August 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
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.

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Posted Friday, August 9, 2019 | Review Permalink

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