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Cast - Beyond Reality CD (album) cover

BEYOND REALITY

Cast

 

Symphonic Prog

3.60 | 54 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is Cast fifth album already since they started to record as such (in 1994). But since they were playing for a very long time together, lots of material was ready for release and it was without any difficulty that Cast produced their first seven records in just over three years. I must add, to be honest that not all of these recordings will be great ones.

This album is mainly made of three songs, each one being divided into several pieces.

"The Rescue" is made of "Introduction" which is a pleasant instrumental displaying the virtuosity of the musicians. A complex structure a la Crimson for most of it. Still, a nice piano break as Emerson could have imagined will follow to close and lead the way for the next movement "Seventh House Of Huitzilopochtli". This is a pure jewel of a track. Full of harmony, of beautiful music. It has more to do with symph prog than with neo- prog IMO. But this is true as well for lots of Cast songs.

This section is VERY similar to a PFM production from the early days, which is a sign of quality of course. This is my favourite portion of this album. A fantastic and poetic one. It could have been a never ending number...

The tempo of the third movement "The Rescue" is quite different. The wild intro featuring a crazy guitar, makes me think instantly to Yes and the so typical Howe's play. Actually, the whole track will be of this vein. Again, there are worse references...The last section (three minutes) will again feature similar vocals to the ones of Franco Mussida on the two PFM "English" period : "The World..." and "Chocolate Kings".

This very long epic (over twenty one minute) is really a jewel of a song. Probably the most achieved one of the band so far.

I have the same feeling for the first part of the song "The North". The section "Northern Place" is a continuation of the previous track (at least in the philosophy and influence).

The second movement is rather chaotic : "All The Way From Nowhere" starts very nicely : lots of tempo changes from pure symph prog to classic music. But all of this is so melodic, so sweet. It will suddenly become a bit loose while attempting to experience some funky mood.

By then, it seems that Cast has completely lost control. It sounds as a semi-organized cacophony, but the track is basically going absolutely nowhere. It turns to be complicated for the purpose of making it complicated. It is a real pity that Cast did not stick to the magnificent first two minutes of this section and expanded on that base.

Instead, they have made a fine mess of it ! It partially screwed this second track which had started very promisingly.

The third track, "The Mirrors House" opens with "Marcato"which is a pure classical part. It sounds as a midle-age madrigal. Not a single second can please me. Horrific, really and completely lost here.

The second part titled "The Mirrors House" is the longest piece of music of the whole album. It will take a while to really kick off. Over four minute of a dull intro (instrumental as well as vocal). Fortunately, it will get far much better after this. Cast is made of very skilled musicians, and they will all have the chance to prove it here. Be the rhythmic section, be the great and aerial keys, be the nice flute. The guitar will be on the forefront for just a little while at the end of this long intrumental break (almost four minutes).

But when the vocal part will come in again, it will partially ruin the effort of the whole band. I am not usually too harsh with Dino, but in this particular piece he mostly sound real bad.

But even if I should put this aspect aside, I find that the track is lacking of depth and harmony. It shows maestria, I agree but it sounds more as if each member is trying to supersede his colleagues. Each at his turn. It also sound very strange that a track lasting for more than thirteen minutes ends so abruptedly. It sounds like if it were a demo session.

"Transparent Cymbals", is pretty much "Gentle Giant" oriented. Especially the vocals. Not really my cup of tea.

The closing number is a tribute to Camel. A cover from "Another Night" coming out their good album "Moonmadness". Not too bad.

Cast has some times the same defect as other bands who seem to believe that it is absolutely necessary to produce very long albums (or even double albums). I have this feeling with Mostly Autumn and The Flower Kings as well. I rather prefer a fifty minutes long work which is very rich in its content than rounding up an album to over seventy minutes (sixty in this case) of which twenty are fillers.

I consider this album as almost a tribute to PFM during the most interesting part of the album. So, if you are into PFM as well, you might love "the Rescue". But this album is not consistent enough (especially the second half of it). Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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