Whilst Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle have spawned many a musical progeny over the years, Leeds in some ways has always been the slightly poorer cousin to its fellow Northern cities. Yes, it is had a fruitful underground punk scene for years and spawned Gang of Four, Forward Russia and, ahem, Kaiser Chiefs, but it has never reached the iconic status of its fellow city brethren.
But over the past five years, something has been stirring in West Yorkshire and Castrovalva are among the bands at the forefront of this.
They may be among some of the best bands that you have never heard of but That Fucking Tank, Bilge Pump and These Monsters, with their visceral, genre bending, attack style take on music have been creating some of the most beguilingly, head bendingly loopy sounds that you might ever hear. Defying genres and tagged, in the best way possible as being ‘experimental’ these bands are too good to remain the reserve of our northern friends.
Castrovalva’s debut album, ‘We Are A Unit’ continues in the same vain as their sonically diverse brothers. With songs which continually change pace, often at break neck speed and full of curious little nuances, they are highly detailed and intricate tapestries of sound. But don’t let that put you off: this is a very assured effort indeed.
Vocalist Leemun Smith’s bounces about with aplomb, ranging from highs of ‘Pump Pump’, to the metal core influenced, throat shredding scream of ‘We Don’t Go to Ravenholm’, to the cheeky chappy patter of used in ‘You’d Better Make That Money’. Each song sees him take on multiple characters, creating something which transcends unnerving and is elevated to something really fascinating.
For a three piece the noise they create is gigantic. What would initially just be mistaken for a big bloody racket is something much more concrete and interesting. Perhaps the strength of ‘We Are A Unit’ is not all the things that it is, but of what it is not. By making something so different and so unlike anything else at the moment, it shines as the accomplished and interesting album it is.