The last bit of the psychedelic overdose that is actually the latest Hands in the Dark batch of releases is an LP by guitar shaman Demian Castellanos. That’s a name that you might have come across if you’re into the modern UK psych scene—The Oscillation in particular, within which he is also playing guitar and taking on vocal duties. If you’re not familiar with that particular scene, imagine a person sitting with a guitar in his lap, behind an enormous pedal board, travelling in the sounds coming from the amp behind him while in the same moment being alone in his room.
The Kyvu Tapes Vol. I spans nearly a decade of sketching, demoing, and writing bits and pieces of music. Demian Castellanos’ approach to guitar playing is far from orthodox, so you might find or hear him not only pulling the strings, but treating them with a varying arsenal of tools—from kitchen utensils to pieces of paper. The result, however, may not be radical or ground-breaking, but it’s an enjoyable and engaging listen nonetheless.
In this first volume of The Kyvu Tapes, Castellanos is pretty much milking his guitar and pedal-board dry. The ten pieces most often emerge around sparse psychedelic melodies. When they’re backed by lower frequencies, the music becomes subtle, occasionally escalating to overdriven guitar drones. Whenever there is percussion present, these drones are minimalist and non-intrusive. A lot of the guitar effecting is abstract—the strings and guitar body are no longer an instrument but rather a mere sound source. The Kyvu Tapes is indeed a lesson in making full use of your instrument and gear, plus a reminder that, in music, the means are rarely an obstacle for the ideas.
What I really like about this LP is that even if the pieces range from very short (the shortest being just barely longer than a minute) to what could be considered a ‘normal’ length, they don’t leave anything unsaid. I won’t go so far as to compare the compositions on The Kyvu Tapes to, let’s say, Chopin’s Preludes, but they really do make sense and sound like fully completed, accomplished works. It’s with this understanding that you can listen to the album which—despite essentially being a collection of sketches—feels thorough, and you can sense that somebody really managed to put together a puzzle whose parts actually do fit together perfectly and tell an interesting story as well. I’ll certainly be watching out for Volume II.
01) High Road Raga
03) Time Slip
04) Lizard Raga
05) Photon Waterfall
08) Headless Aztec
09) Particle Suspension