Never trust a man who's been told repeatedly throughout his formative years that he is brilliant and special. Erstwhile boy-genius Raymond Raposa, who records as Castanets, is such a man; he tested out of high school when he was fifteen, and he is so convinced of his brilliance he believes all of his recorded dribs and drabs are worthy of immortalizing. The eleven song-like lo-fi leavings that comprise Raposa's plodding debut, Cathedral, are so ponderous you'll be mad at yourself for wasting a solid hour of valuable ear-time -- then you'll look at the album's running time and realize it's barely been thirty minutes and get really pissed.
No need to re-evaluate the kid IQ-wise, though: this album indicates he's clearly a brainy fella. His strategy is a good one: inscrutable lyrics about snapped synapses and industry and snow, inscrutable song fragments and bursts of literal clatter, inscrutable country-fied melodies done dreary and dull. When you're this inscrutable, eventually indie-rock fans are going to start believing there is, in fact, something to scrut. Which, let's face it, there almost never is.
What's truly unfortunate is that Cathedral's just tuneful enough to fool some into thinking this might be a Promising Debut from an Emerging Songwriter (direct precursor to either the Major Statement from a Genuine Artist or the Disappointing Follow-Up by a Wasted Talent). But not all, or even most, will be duped, thank the gods; to execute that coup Raposa would need to charge his melodies with higher bpms than he's spiritually capable of. The minute-and-a-half of up-tempo drum-machine pulse that caps Cathedral comes off as a perverse joke after a half-hour of nothing but dirge and drone and sludge and dirge.
Apparently, Raposa is writing a novel to further explore Cathedral's themes. What this means is anybody's guess. And since we're in a guessing mood, I'm gonna guess that the working title of this book-in-progress is Why I Am a Destiny. Pure conjecture, by the way, based solely on the recorded evidence. Still, based on the evidence, I wouldn't bet against it.
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