Castillan – Daisy EP
Record Label: unsigned
Release Date: July 16, 2008
Before the advent of the internet and the subsequent development of iTunes, peer-to-peer sharing, and illegal downloading, individual songs were acquired by purchasing a band’s single, making a mixtape for your favorite someone, or recording tunes off of the radio. Since the introduction of personal musical technology, the debate has grown over the proper way to listen to records. Some, who would likely self-identify as “purists,” argue that an album must be experienced in its entirety because without context, meaning is lost. Others, often more casual music fans, see no problem with grabbing their favorite song or two from an online playlist or piracy website.
Although I’d tend to side with the former beliefs, where my allegiances lie in this debate isn’t exactly the point. What is important is that until recently, I never would have advised someone against acquiring a full album. Of course, I’d also never heard an album that represented such extremes in terms of quality and potential. Then I heard Castillan’s Daisy EP.
The band boldly begins the EP with the acoustic “A Selfish Love,” which is actually a good decision because it’s one of the album’s strongest tracks. The unplugged format, well-dressed in a meandering song structure, allows vocalist Cole Bailey to showcase his fantastic set of pipes. He hits a number of major vocal styles, from smoky to gravelly to falsetto, with equal parts precision and passion.
“A Shifting Reef,” much like the later track, “Separate Branches,” finds Castillan playing their bread and butter: murky tunes decked in reverb, sparse and splashy percussion, and intoxicating melodies that wander in and out of the haze. Both songs seem to get a little lost along the way, but in this case, the journeys are more important than the destinations. Unfortunately, things then get a little rough.
“Ink Heart” takes a fairly bland metaphor of the power of the written word and absolutely eviscerates it with a painful male/female counter-melody stretched over single notes choked from a hilariously solemn piano. Angular instrumentation usually isn’t physically harmful to a song, but this track just about bleeds itself dry, leaving its anemic lyrics hovering over a desiccated shell. The Daisy EP crashes to the lower end of the spectrum with “I’m a Hero, Now a Crow,” a woefully underproduced mess of a “song” featuring stumbling chords and someone quietly wailing about God-knows-what.
But if the Bad and the Not-So-Ugly need killin’, Castillan packed their own Clint Eastwood in the form of “When Daisy Tumbled Short of His Dreams…” At eight and a half minutes in length, this is the sort of track that record deals are made of. Layers slide into place over a foundation of electronic noise that could be a drunk jazz flutist or a pack of hungry sparrows. Either way, its poignantly painful lyrics are cast across the swelling strata, achieving the dream-like state mentioned in the song’s title. These are the most achingly pleasant eight and a half minutes of music released in recent memory.
If I could take part in the technological revolution and score only the Daisy EP’s bookends, this would be a rave review. But that’s not my job, I have to rate the entire bell curve. While the result isn’t a bad average, it conceals Castillan’s true aptitude: an entire album of “A Selfish Love”-s and “When Daisy…”-s would certainly earn AOTY discussion. We can only hope that this fledgling group will root out the sleepy tracks from their next effort and give us a distilled dose of their massive potential.