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Boomkat Product Review:
The completion of this latest album from Castanets coincided with something of an annus horribilis for main player Ray Raposa, who came out of a period of incapacitating depression after 2005's First Light's Freeze. That album's follow-up In The Vines is a fittingly sombre affair, but not one which mopes or sounds weighted down by anxiety, instead there's a certain air of catharsis about the album. Raposa gets by with a little help from his friends, namely Jana Hunter, Nonhorse (of Vanishing Voice), Viking Moses, Matthew Houck (aka Phosphorescent) and some bloke called Sufjan Stevens, all of whom help to transform these songs from oppressively downtrodden dirges into often very sweetly melancholic pieces: 'This Is The Early Game' is especially beautiful, benefiting from shimmering guitar slides and a number of guest vocal slots, each offsetting Raposa's pantomime villain rasp. In The Vines is far from being a mere alt-country/nu-folk love-in however, you'll hear a biting sense of experimentation in the noise exercises of 'Three Months Paid' and 'Rain Will Come', and many of the most beautiful arrangements are given added barbs by the electronic treatments, subtle discordant tones floating around the background, or programmed backbeats, as on the quite wonderful 'Three Months Paid' and the closing piece 'And The Swimming', which evokes the fourtrack bedroom opuses of East River Pipe. There's a lot to love about In The Vines: it's a record that successfully carries a palpable tension with more than a little darkness seeping out at the edges, but ultimately the listening experience is an uplifting one. Here's hoping the album opens up a new, happier chapter in Castanets' history. Recommended.