I Am Casting
I Am Casting is the brainchild of Cole Guerra. With the exception of some horn players and little help on a few tracks, Cole Guerra is I Am Casting. I’d place Guerra in the company of players like Todd Rundgren rather than the bedroom and Protools solo artists of today. That’s not to cast aspersions on the bedroom set. Listening to Carnival Barkers, I can’t help but imagine Selling England By the Pound-era Genesis falling through a dimensional portal and landing in an abandoned cinema in North Carolina.
Guerra’s voice bears a passing resemblance to a young Peter Gabriel. Not a clone. It’s not that he’s trying to sound like someone else. There’s just something about the timber and phrasing of his voice that makes me think of Gabriel. The music is complex without being showy. The songs on Carnival Barkers shift unexpectedly. The tempos, rhythms and keys shift to color the dreamscapes Guerra paints with his words. He uses whatever sounds fit the moment, be they a distant trombone or a syndrum break beat.
The songs on Carnival Barkers are impressionistic stories reflecting the messed up culture we live in. Guerra sticks his nose behind the curtain of hoopla the barkers on the bailey are shouting to reveal the con. The lead off track, “Charmer”, spells out the con saying, “we know you don’t let truth map it’s way into your run. And when scared me define you, they cure your hiccups but blind you.” I think “Lullaby” is about surrendering to artificial intelligence and letting algorithms run your life. I can’t help but like the lines, “and if you come down with mononucleosis, it knows to rub your back, call your mom, pick up the slack.”
I like that Carnival Barkers is a deceptive album that rewards repeated listening. On first listening, I thought the songs were pleasant, but not all that exciting. Having the disc on auto repeat driving around in my car, the subtle weirdness in the instrumentation came to the surface, the lyrics floated through my consciousness, painting pictures and implying stories. It’s a record that promotes thinking, which is a very good thing.