Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nick Castro & the Poison Tree - Further From Grace (us 2005)

Nick Castro & The Poison Tree - Further From Grace (us 2005)

Formed: CA, United States

* Nick Castro (voice, piano, organ, guitar, miywiz, whistles),
* Otto Hauser (drums, percussion, dumbek, trap-kit),
* Helena Espvall (flute, cello, percussion),
* Chris Smith (bass),
* Adam Hershberger (flugelhorn),
* Meg Baird (lap dulcimer),
* Josephine Foster (voice).

Related Artists:
Nick Castro & The Young Elders, Espers

01. Sun Song (4:09)
02. To This Earth (3:29)
03. Unborn Child (3:40)
04. Won't You Sing To Me (4:26)
05. Waltz for a Little Bird (4:18)
06. Guilford (5:13)
07. Music for Mijwiz (2:42)
08. Deep Deep Sea (8:09)
09. Walk Like a Whisper (4:29)

- Producer: Nick Castro
- Distributor: NAIL Distribution
- Recording type: Studio
- Recording mode: Stereo
- SPAR Code: n/a
- Audio Mixer: Brian McTear.
- Recording information: Miner Street Studios.

On his second album, Nick Castro works with a slightly ad hoc band, the Poison Tree, drawing on similarly Pennsylvania-based 21st century acoustic/psych performers such as folks from Espers. It's a fine pairing, resulting in an album very much in the vein of performers old and new such as the Incredible String Band in its quieter moods and Stone Breath at its most gothed out. As many musicians are now actively exploring this vein, though, it's all the more important to stand out from the field. Castro's singing voice is in ways his calling card. His songs are enjoyable if not surprising interpretations of the form, so it's the clear, crisp rasp in his singing -- a bit Nick Drake on songs like "Guilford" but not overly indebted -- that often lends a slight edge to the compositions, less a medieval minstrel, say, than a reflective veteran from some strange conflict. While musically acoustic guitar unsurprisingly forms the basis of the arrangements, it's Castro's work on whistles (and on "Music for Mijwiz" that particular wind instrument), Adam Hershberger's on flügelhorn, and Helena Espvall's on flute that actually proves the most distinct element, establishing a continuity song for song and making Further From Grace seem that much more of a unified piece. When set aside from the gentle variations in the songs -- the queasy, slightly tripped-out guitars on "Unborn Child," the self-descriptive instrumental "Waltz for a Little Bird" (with jaunty piano from Castro) -- the results can be quite enjoyable. The murky, haunting extended coda of treated voices and improvised flute on the opening "Sun Song" gets contrasted against the slightly commanding tone of Castro's voice, each standing out all the more. If Castro's not as dramatic as, say, Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance, he doesn't need to be, finding the right balance between close, almost tactile recordings -- the instruments seem to be sitting right there next to you, such is the quality of the engineering -- and a mysterious, removed resolve.
~ Ned Raggett.
Beaming warmly from the underground enclaves of Los Angeles, CA like a lambent ray of soft sunlight, the music of Nick Castro is breathing fresh life and pristine wonderment into an old sound. Castro released a beguiling album called A Spy in the House of God in 2004 on his own imprint Records of Ghaud, and it caused quite a stir in the new acid folk circles. Imagine a melding of More-era Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett solo and a touch of Incredible String Band with modern fractured folk sound weavers like the Tower Recordings and maybe you are in the right sphere. For his follow up, Castro has assembled a cast of players calling themselves The Poison Tree, boasting amongst its ranks underground folk icons Josephine Foster and members of Espers. It is a heavenly match as evidenced on Further From Grace, a simply mystical sophomore effort illustrating with a feathery wallop that Castro is a major voice amongst the new insurgence of THC troubadours.
Further From Grace bewitches with an intoxicating mood sustained throughout. Instrumentation is lush and exotic, but in the hands of Nick Castro and The Poison Tree, otherwise disparate implements such as flugelhorn, lap dulcimer and mijwiz are deftly melded into a pan-cultural elixir comprised of American and British folk traditions, classical balladry and Middle Eastern. Masterful songwriting, ornamented by Castro's ardent vocals and dreamlike lyrics, are relieved by hypnotic and utterly stoned instrumental passages. Opening with "Sun Song", ripe with visions of Castro's native California as filtered through a heavy-lidded hashish haze, Further From Grace weaves along through song after striking song, melody after beautiful melody. Instrumental excursions like "Music for Mijiwiz" kick up acoustic mini-ragas along the way, until the whole journey cascades into the shimmering, hum-along outro of "Walk Like a Whisper".
Induced by flourishes of psychedelic 60's folk bards like Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine) and Bert Jansch, laced with flashes of Amon Düül-like acoustic communal atmosphere (circa Paradieswärts Düül), Further From Grace is a graceful tab of Nick Castro's own heady universe, an acid-folk masterpiece advancing today's sound into sparkling new frontiers.
~ Internet Source.

More on Nick HERE:

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...and also...
Nick Castro & The Poison Tree - Further From Grace (us 2005).rar (55.18 MB)

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