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CASTANARC

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Castanarc biography
Obscure neo-proggers from the UK mid-80's scene, CASTANARC only stuck it out for four albums. The sound is a mixture of GENESIS and YES, but the vocalist sounds so much like John Waite that if you're a fan of his or the BABYS, it can tend to be a distraction. However, the music is more keyboard-oriented and less guitar-dominant than MARILLION, and reminds at times of SAGA. Overall, CASTANARC is a fairly decent neo-prog band, comparable in quality to PALLAS or PENDRAGON and not as good as JADIS. "Journey To The East" is a real cult prog classic and is a great album to sit and listen to.

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CASTANARC discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CASTANARC top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.53 | 59 ratings
Journey to the East
1984
3.69 | 40 ratings
Rude Politics
1988
2.60 | 25 ratings
Burnt Offerings
1988
3.06 | 24 ratings
Little Gods
1989
3.04 | 9 ratings
The Sea of Broken Vows
2021

CASTANARC Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CASTANARC Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CASTANARC Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Water from the Well
2020

CASTANARC Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
This Island Love / Heroes
1989

CASTANARC Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Sea of Broken Vows by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.04 | 9 ratings

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The Sea of Broken Vows
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by Squonk19

3 stars It was way back in 1984 that Doncaster's CASTANARC released their debut album, Journey to the East, during that first wave of neo-prog rock. It was well-received by many and represented the softer, more gentle and atmospheric side of the fledgling genre, compared to the more dynamic and complex work of their peers. The melodic interplay between David Powell's keyboards and Paul Ineson's guitar, behind the smooth, almost Jon Anderson-like, vocals of Mark Holiday, created a more fluid and contemplative style of melodic prog. However, for a number of reasons, they were not able to capitalise on their early promise at the time and while a later '80s regrouping saw a number of further studio releases, the band were destined to remain a small footnote in the history of UK progressive rock.

However. several decades later Mark and David have resurrected Castanarc and just released a new studio album called The Sea of Broken Vows. Joined by producer John Spence and regular guest musicians, Neil Duty and Pat Mount (guitars), Pete Robinson (bass), Charlie Morgan (drums) and Steve Beighton (saxophone), together with Angela Gordon of Mostly Autumn (flute and low whistle), they have created an easy listening and melodic, song- orientated, soft prog album which flows along pleasantly enough.

As in their earlier incarnation, don't necessarily expect the instrumental complexity and intricacy of their more renown neo-prog contemporaries. Those early influences of Pendragon, Pallas, Jadis and Saga along with Camel are still hovering in the background, but Mark's vocals are more mellow and the music is framed into supporting a more modern and popular style of song structure. Whilst undoubtedly many of the 11 tracks have a similar soft rock smoothness and melodic feel to them - often with a steady, medium tempo, and wistful vocals - there are moments when the music does catch fire and display a more dynamic proggy edge.

A Song Rings Out, starts with the quiet sound of dripping water, but then has a powerful guitar-based Mystery-like introduction and trots along very melodically. The Ascent of Man starts with symphonic and stately keyboard chords, but then introduces has a jaunty, Celtic beat and a spirited guitar solo with some lovely saxophone to end. Helicopter noises and distorted, chiming guitar herald The Walking of the Earth - another album highlight, which is nicely upbeat, with a catchy melody and refrain with vibrant keyboard runs later on.

For The Want Of A Nail closes the album pleasantly enough with some soaring guitar work, cheerily taking us full circle to the sound of dripping water once again. There are nice touches elsewhere. Angela's flute and whistle not surprisingly add a touch of Mostly Autumn on a couple of tracks. Delicate piano and acoustic guitar sections provide a lifting up in the variety in several of the shorter songs.

If I am being hyper-critical, there are songs which display a similar tone and pace to them - which whilst still being well-crafted and sung expressively - don't quite engage the listener as well as others and sort of flow over you. With all but the closing track being under 5 minutes in length, it would have been nice to have seen the music given more free-rein to develop into something more epic, perhaps - but such nit-picking aside, the album is a well- produced and enjoyable listen, overall.

From a progressive rock viewpoint, The Sea of Broken Vows, breaks no new ground, but after all those intervening years between studio releases, it will most definitely please the band's long-standing fanbase and even attract some new listeners who like their prog rock on the more melodic, accessible and popular side. Mark, David and John deserve praise for keeping the Castanarc flame shining for a little longer. Check it out on their Bandcamp site and see if it strikes a chord with you.

(From The Progressive Aspect - A Different Aspect)

 The Sea of Broken Vows by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.04 | 9 ratings

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The Sea of Broken Vows
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars As soon as the thing starts, there you are thinking: "hey, wait a minute, this is too simple for my educated prog palate". And it's relatively simple, yes, but it's loaded with great melodies, and good taste for execution and arrangements too. The subtleties are there anyway, in the form of an agile execution of some intricate fast passages (listen to the opener).

What do you need to know about the influences? There are traits resembling the first Pendragon in the leading vocals, and in certain rhythmic patterns, mainly during the fast pieces.

Final word of advise: I hate recommend an album when each song sounds very similar to the next, but, since this is NOT the case, and you can find a reasonable sense of variety here, go ahead, you may find an amusing listen too.

 Journey to the East by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.53 | 59 ratings

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Journey to the East
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This was their debut and at 1984 one of the earlier Neo-Prog album releases. Pretty laid back for the most part, really relaxed and to be honest a fairly big improvement on the album to come called "Rude Politics" from 1988. Still there's little here that would move me to give a higher rating. The two longest tracks are worth mentioning. "The Fool" at over 8 1/2 minutes opens with the fool speaking in a strange processed manner. A beat, bass, guitar and vocals follow, keyboards too. It calms right down to piano and vocals then we get this instrumental section of synths, bass and drums as it continues to play out. The title track ends the album and it's 7 1/2 minutes long and the best one in my opinion. I like how it starts with the synths creating atmosphere as the vocals join in. It builds then kicks into a full sound. Hey I like the seagulls to start and end "Travelling Song" a common sound around here in the summer.
 Burnt Offerings by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.60 | 25 ratings

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Burnt Offerings
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars By the end of 84' Duty and Kirkland left Castanarc and the remaining trio decided to carry on by writing new material.Without any financial income they were forced to perform on jam sessions and in 1986 they signed a new contract with RCA's branch label Cue Rain, which would re-issue ''Journey to the East'' with an extra track.In 1988 a first attempt on re-reaching the public was made through the offering of a limited cassette entitled ''Burnt offerings'', which contained previously unreleased material plus reworked songs.

The familiar style of Castanarc is still present, a dreamy and lyrical Neo Prog with GENESIS and PINK FLOYD influences, although delivered in a much more personal way.The album contains the first ever song written by Holiday and Powell, ''Timespan'', which is pretty similar to late-70's GENESIS with poppy tunes surrounded by theatrical vocals and elaborate breaks.''Taliesin'' is another piece dating from Castanarc's early days, closer to British Folk Rock with sensitive vocals and acoustic guitars along with some surprising violin.The mid-80's tracks, recorded during the group's transitional period, are coming in an ambiental mood with spacey keyboards, expressive narrations and orchestral textures in a vey calm and atmospheric enviroment.The closest piece to Castanarc's debut is the very PENDRAGON-like ''When doves become eagles'', a smooth lyrical song with romantic vocal lines, mellow drums and discreet synthesizers.

The same compilation of songs was reissued on CD ten years later on Khepra Records with an alternative, remix version of the classic track ''Peyote'' from Castanarc's debut (included also in the original cassette) plus two songs in demo versions from the later Castanarc albums, ''From shadows'' and ''The dream''.

This is an album rather serving the scope of re-defining a group returning from its darkest period than a regular work by a band and, if seen as so, it is an interesting, archival effort.Propably an excess to be part of anyone's collection, but lovers of Neo Prog, die-hard Prog archivists and, of course, Castanarc followers will be rewarded by its atmospheric tunes, if purchasing...2.5 stars.

 Rude Politics by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.69 | 40 ratings

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Rude Politics
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Castanarc's second album finds their sound evolving significantly over their debut. The major change is in the use of keyboards and synthesisers on the part of David Powell and Steve Beighton, which are often much more in tune with the sounds and textures of synthpop than classic prog, allowing Rick Burns' atmospheric guitar work and the occasional keyboard flourish to keep the neo-prog side of the band's sound going. The end result is an intriguing hybrid sound - soft, calming, even at points romantic - which suggests the sort of combination of prog chops and cutting-edge sounds which would pay off in spades for Porcupine Tree a few short years later. Not for neo-prog purists, but a very interesting album nonetheless.
 Journey to the East by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.53 | 59 ratings

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Journey to the East
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars An enchanting release from the first wave of neo-prog, featuring a sound a lot like early Marillion but with a more pronounced Yes influence - particularly when it comes to Mark Holiday's vocals, which include more than a few hints of Jon Anderson's delivery. Paul Ineson rivals Steve Rothery when it comes to long, drawn-out David Gilmour-inspired guitar solos, whilst the keyboard work of David Powell is a constant feature of the album, and is rather charming. Whilst I wouldn't put the album in the top flight of neo-prog releases from the era, it's most of the way there, and they certainly don't deserve the comparative obscurity they seem to have fallen into compared to the likes of Pallas, Solstice and other neo-prog also-rans from the period.
 Burnt Offerings by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1988
2.60 | 25 ratings

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Burnt Offerings
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars This music continues to confuse me since I've get to know it. It's soft neo-prog I suppose (nothing synthy like Pendragon, or dark as Arena), but there's something absolutely unique. Each song is started by... well, intro, ranging from about 10-30 seconds. Directly first one is crazy enough to make me interested in. But music itself is weak. Too shallow to be special and too influences by era from which this albums emerges (oh yeah, I'm another one who hates sound of 80's, so be it then).

3(-), Pleasant melodies, there's no dispute in it, but not much on this release. Maybe their other ones are better.

 Little Gods  by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.06 | 24 ratings

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Little Gods
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by robbob

3 stars Well, a decent album. Very easy listening songs . Nothing complex here. Good elaborated melodies but to short to make a really artistic evaluation.

Good songs,very melodic and pleasent.

Arrangements are quite good but there is a lack here of strength and emotions, so finally you find a quite boring album

For the ones who like the ligther side of neo prog a good album. For the ones who are searching for simmilar to the most creative and complex bands of the area such as old Marillion,IQ or Pendragon i think they are going to be a little dissapointed.

I don,t know to say if it was good that this one was their last album or not but the time orientation was in the line of light prog...so i wouldn,t expect then a very good next album.

3 stars(2,5 really)

 Rude Politics by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1988
3.69 | 40 ratings

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Rude Politics
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by bensmeel

5 stars I was surprised not to find a review for this album, since it's one of the best albums in progressive rock. A bit Pink Floyd / Porcupine Tree like, but with a very own style. It has a very tranquil atmosphere, with occasional heavier parts. Songs that you can really dream away at without falling asleep. Occasional tribal-like rhythms keep it interesting. I don't know what more to say, except but buy it now!
 Journey to the East by CASTANARC album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.53 | 59 ratings

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Journey to the East
Castanarc Neo-Prog

Review by loserboy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars CASTANARC's "Journey To The East"" is a real classic and is one of those light hearted progressive rock recordings with highly memorable songs. Standout for me here is the absolutely beautiful soft voice of Mark Holiday who I would say has one of the top voices. CASTANARC are a neo-prog act but never get too synthy for my liking instead delivering a gentle but complex offering which I am sure will please all prog heads. They never get too loud or out of control and keep focus on building vocal harmonies and beautiful sonic architecture. At times I think "Journey..." carries a slight Alan PARSONS touch. "Journey To The East" is a real cult prog classic and is a great album to sit and listen to.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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