[13 November 2012]
In college, some friends hosted a community radio show called the Dreamery. A treasure of freeform programming, the show sought to collect and curate all that is dreamy in pop music—shoegaze to dream-pop, Mazzy Star to M83. If you could nod off sleepily to it, you could probably hear it on the Dreamery. If only Cast arrived in time.
Armed with over twenty sighing dream-pop mood pieces—over half of them drifting hazily past the five-minute mark—this double-album set is a Dreamery treasure trove. Disc one compiles rarities and b-sides from the veteran Orange County/Seattle duo’s three studio releases. Disc two offers an expanded version of the group’s excellent 2009 EP, The Natural Order Of Things. On both, Trespassers William takes Mojave 3’s Ask Me Tomorrow as something of a starting point: gorgeous, sleepy-eyed psychedelia, rife with silky guitar fades, Anna-Lynne Williams’ sublimely multitracked vocals, and the slightest hint of twang. Exceeding 100 minutes, the full set isn’t brief. But Cast’s menacing length is well redeemed by its stellar songwriting and unified mood.
Though it’ll come as a gift to longtime fans, Cast also offers a starter set for the uninitiated. Beyond the duo’s basic shoegaze-goes-folk aesthetic, there’s a rich stylistic range here that encompasses ambient flourishes (“Bells [Quiet Version]”), acoustic pop (“Never You”), shimmering psychedelia (“Blue”, “Lives and Dies”), and the occasional rhythmic rave-up (“Flicker”). The rarities disc favors sharper, more minimalistic arrangements (achingly gorgeous opener “Believe Me” may be the best of the bunch). The Natural Order of Things is highlighted by thicker, hazier production work, as on “Red” and “Lives and Dies”. Eventually it drifts off into some narcotic dream state with its fading closing piece, “Blue”.
What’s sadder than the melancholy surrounding Trespassers William’s music is the fact that they are no longer making it. Focusing on solo work and new projects, the duo announced its breakup last January. Cast, then, is a farewell statement—and an impressively generous one at that. There’s an audience for sad-eyed psychedelia like this. Given their low profile, Trespassers William hasn’t quite reached it. These recordings are worth drifting on past their makers’ recent conclusion.