As lead vocalist of both TesseracT and Skyharbor, Daniel Tompkins has become a well-known name in the progressive rock genre. With Castles he released his first solo album. The album sees seven tracks inspired by the ups and downs in Daniels relationships, combining powerful synths with an occasional heavy guitar.
Off course, the album is all about the wonderful voice of Daniel, but musically it does take a turn from both bands mentioned above. Castles is much more electronic, synth based. Only the second track Black The Sun sees a dark guitar riff, the other compositions should be classified as electronic power pop. I think, where TesseracT started to close the gap between progressive music and pop related music, Daniel takes that intention one step further with his solo debut. Due to the electronic base and intense emotions, a track like Telegraph reminds me of A Perfect Circle's last album.
The songs are quite easy to digest, accessible and will definitely appeal to a much broader audience as both TesseracT and Skyharbor would get.
I am talking about seven tracks all the time, when there are thirteen songs on the CD? The remaining part of the CD holds remixes of several of the first seven compositions, so you can experience how different people take a track and turn it inside out into something new. A nice gesture, but listening three times in a row to slightly different versions of the openings track; Saved is a bit (too) much.
In the end, I remain quite positive about this power pop, progressive rock combination. Daniel's vocals always have impressed me and they remain doing so on Castles. Due to the several additional remixes a seven track EP would have been very OK for me, four versions of one particular song seems a bit overdone, while the first is more than good enough.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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