Review: Castratii - Eora [Album]

Review: Castratii - Eora [Album]

Time No Place // "Despite their deliberate anonymity "Eora" still comes off as a deeply vivid and personal experience"

Review   1137 Views
Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire December 11th, 2012.

Eora, the title of Sydney based trio Castratii's full length debut, is full of historical and cultural significance. The term (which translates to “here” or “from this place”) dates back a few hundred years to the coastal Aborigines of Sydney, who occupied the land south of Port Jackson from South Head to Petersham. It was used by the Aborigines to describe themselves to the First Fleet, which arrived on their land in 1788.

The Eora people were made up of several clans: the Wangal, the Cammeraigal, the Cadigal and the Bidjigal, all of whom shared a common language and a deep love for the land on which they lived and cared for. The Eora were deeply spiritual as well, believing that inside everything, regardless of what it was, lived a spirit keeping it in existence—it was this belief that instilled a great deal of pride and respect in the Eora for their homeland.

Despite the fact that each of Castratti's members (The Duke Spirit’s Leila Moss and possibly visual artists Beauvais Cassidy and Jonathan Wilson) claim different regions as home—Sydney, Los Angeles, and London—there's still a unified sense of pride for Australia threaded into the album's grooves. Eora isn't a linear tribute though, you won't find lyrics rife with references to places or events of historical or sentimental significance—instead, that sense of pride is felt more in the music itself, which pays homage to Australia's lush and rugged landscapes deep inside the dense textures and moody atmospheres.

Take the early standout 'Limits' for example: tremoloed guitars and hazy synthesizers slowly build to create a sense of despair that peaks to cinematic heights on the chorus, soaring as they mix with the bruised, near desperate tone of Moss' voice as she offers a heart breaking truth, “Every event in your tiny heart is dead” to devastating, but uplifting results. The title track's buzz-saw guitars, angelic cooing and horror movie synths act as gauzy layers wrapped around Moss' slightly menacing tone, creating a kind of brooding beauty—the lethargic and ghostly hint of doo-wop found on 'Low Profile' would sound at home on a David Lynch soundtrack.

WATCH // Castratii - Kingdom

As Eora unfolds, it may be tempting to dust off any number of favorite 80s dream-pop or 90s shoegaze albums to draw comparison to their sound (I'll leave that to you), but Castratii aren't simply re-purposing old favorites in the context of an album, but rather, they're drawing from familiar approaches (hushed instrumental passages that give way to crystalline volume, feelings of despair and ugliness paired beside heartache and beauty) to create something uniquely their own.

The balance between emotions and textures lends a greater sense of depth to the music, and makes the emotion hit that much harder. On lead single 'Kingdom', the flickering, scraping synthesizers and tumbling beat create a foreboding atmosphere offset by the near ethereal quality of the male-female harmonies—it's the kind of song that sounds as if it were born out of sleep deprivation in the dead of the night.

'Monolith' on the other hand reaches near-eulogy status: Moss' layered harmonies sound as if they're being channeled from another realm—terrified and aching at once—the male leads are simultaneously startled and numb. The nervous palpitations of a drum machine paired with more scraping synths helps elevate the tension further. As the album winds down, Castratii offer a particularly vulnerable moment of beauty born out of despair on 'The Hanging', where both Moss and her male counterpart confess in unison “I thought it was over but it's bringing me down” over a backdrop of a droning piano and shimmering synthesizers. Both gradually give way to a particularly fragile piano motif that captures the first glimpses of hope after an emotionally devastating experience.

Despite their deliberate anonymity (shying away from photographs or revealing their identities), and their desire to present their work in an equally anonymous sense, Eora still comes off as a deeply vivid and personal experience, and for a debut album, it achieves the rare feat of coming fully formed as well.
Eora is out now

Worth listening to...
  • Limits
  • Monolith
  • The Hanging
  • Kingdom

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