Review of 'The Kyvu Tapes Vol. 1 (1990 – 1998)' by Demian Castellanos on Hands in the Dark (HITD25) & Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL039)

You probably know Demian Castellanos as the man behind the London psyche rock outfit The Oscillation. Cardinal Fuzz and their European best partner in crime Hands In The Dark are teaming-up to release “The Kyvu Tapes Vol.1 (1990-1998)”.
Demian grew up in a house called Kyvu (which means “view of the dog” in local dialect) in a village called The Lizard where the view from his house overlooked Kynance Cove in Cornwall. All of which act as reference points as Demian Castellanos takes you on a sonic exploration on the Kyvu Tapes Vol.1.
The fruit of his 90’s decade-long, obsession for the infinite possibilities offered by the electric guitar – playing it with forks, knives, bits of paper, volume control, and making the most of the effects pedals he had – was countless hours of experimentation and sonic explorations on a 4-track Tascam Porta 3. Largely influenced by new sound of the British psyche/shoegaze scene of that time, his music could be described as analog and guitar based ambient music or room drones, a vast auditory map of sonic places to lose himself in and immerse himself in a surreal/non-real present time of that period.
15 years down the line, Demian decided to dig out his endless night and day recordings of that period, reflecting now a bizarre conversation between his older and younger self.
The Kyvu Tapes Vol. 1 (1990 – 1998) was jointly released by Hands in the Dark (HITD25) and Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL039). It was released on 4th May 2015 so I have to apologise for the delayed review because Hands in the Dark have sold out and Cardinal Fuzz have only 4 Sam Giles CD editions left which are available here. However, the good news is that you may be able to still get vinyl / CD and digital versions from Demian’s bandcamp page here.
This is an outstanding album, meticulously crafted with brilliant guitar tones used to great effect. There are excellent evolving soundscapes with a real brooding quality at times. It’s mesmerising and hypnotic yet just a bit edgy too which keeps grabbing your attention. Background sounds are similarly excellent crafted and layered to great effect. This is even more remarkable considering that these songs were recorded on a Tascam 4 track.
High Road Raga
This song has a brilliant evolving opening with great layering of sound effects, reverse sounds and a drone. The melody emerges against a swirling background with a subtle acoustic riff in the background. It’s an excellent soundscape and a very hypnotic song.
An excellent evolving, swirling opening with great use of delay creates a great movement in the sound which ebbs and flows really well.
Time Slip
A slow evolving opening which has a real brooding quality. Excellent sounds are really well layered with great effects. There’s a kind of shimmering feel to the sounds which contrasts really well against the drone. It has a feeling of space travel.
Lizard Raga
This song has great slide guitar and a sparse riff to open, excellent background sounds again too and it has a kind of blues-raga feel. There’s an awesome distorted guitar tone which creates a killer drone. The song has the feeling of a jam / improv managing to be hypnotic yet a bit edgy too which really grabs your attention.
Photon Waterfall
There’s a great delayed arp riff to open with and a really nice interplay with the bass arp too. Great sound effects again, a hint of tension from the ‘metallic’ type sounds and a hint of dissonance too.
This is such a beautiful song, delayed percussion works really well with shimmering chords, riff and background sound effects. A brilliant soundscape and a really captivating song. I don’t like making comparisons but if Joe Satriani joined Pink Floyd it would sound something like this.
This song has a harsh feel, a slow evolving opening again with a drone and harsh distorted sounds developing into more of a pulsating sound to end.
Headless Aztec
There’s a great delayed note with feedback to open the song and percussion gives a great momentum. There’s a kind of panpipe – but processed – sound which plays a haunting melody and the background feedback sounds give the song a real eerie quality. This gives way to feedback and swooshing wind type sounds with some reversed sounds too. There’s great movement in the sounds with an emerging riff with great use of delay and reverse sounds to end the song.
Particle Suspension
A rumbling with sweeping and metallic string sound to open, the song has great movement and evolving sounds with a touch of dissonance. The song has quite an edgy sound.
A brilliant distorted tone to open with delayed, reversed, evolving sounds. There’s great layering again and an excellent soundscape. Subtle background string type sounds work really well against the drone. It’s quite mesmerising with an edge that really holds your attention. The evolving guitar riff has a real ethereal feel.
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