Everybody's got stories and histories and back-stories but when the lights go out and The Crazy goes down, what good'll they do you? What we need is courage, sanctity, and some love (carnal, secret, even troubled.) We need Son House or Charley Patton, nothin' but clapping hands, and hoarse voice telling us about Gawwwd, the Devil, that WOMAN. We need beats smashing outta the back end of a Cadillac in some back-end-town. And we get alla that with a Castanets record. Let's count 'em on our fingers; let's do roll callâ€¦ Come 2004 there was Cathedral with country guitars and electronics that shook the bar-tops of San Diego, Brooklyn, and parts unknown. The order of the day was the strata of noise on noise, drones and dry-air crackles. First Light's Freeze was a dream of ice and piles of river rock and sticks and stones. Here we had American music from the old tradition, but witnessed in 2005, solidly, with no eye for nostalgia. This was the war-time fright, the big New Century chill. 2007 was In The Vines, and suddenly we were there in the backseat while the wind blew crazy through the car and drowned out everything but your own damn thoughts. ("Put your body, 'cross my body and sway, sway, sway" went the radio when we pulled over to take a leak.) It was lusts and swimming and a soaring ahhhwww of lap steel. There was blues dug outta the bilge of a shrimp trawler in the gulf and there was fireplace smoke and CMT country hits as heard sitting cross-legged on the bottom of the poolâ€”deep endâ€”while, topside, the barbeque goes on happily without you. (And when you look up through the blue warble of chorine water you can see the dimming sun hovering like burning seagull above you.) And don't forget, we're counting here. We're making a list so we can remember, or maybe so we don't have to remember. What's really important, anyway? All those hours you waste; how much of that is living? City of Refuge is the new record and it's a piece of authentic out-there-where-it-all-is living. There's stories and histories and back-stories; this one's got one. Let's just say: cars on highways like Conrad's boat up dry sand rivers thru heart of coyote darkness with nothing but cactus and glass squares and triangles from busted bottles pushed into the desert floor like green and brown windows into the Earth. City of Refuge, written and recorded solo in a motel, middle of nowheretown, where guitars're bold and distorted and sound like howling animals or pieces of rusted car doors strung with piano wire. Instrumental interludes are static sighs and coded transmissions from satellites twinkling over Barstow or someplace. (You ever heard a sound as lonesome as wind and nothing else?) And then we've got cleansing earth-joy on "I'll Fly Away." And then we've got love, sweat, and sex in "Glory B." Everything that came before is remade like Eve from Adam's side. Everything is like "whatever man, this's me now." This is 15 pieces of barren parking lots, butterfly knives, hot air, rumbling amps, warm beer, STILLNESS, andâ€”somewhere, far off in that empty bar you wish you lived inâ€”the jukebox is playing the most golden of high-plains country. Only, there's a flashflood coming; only, there's a methed-out posse fixing to make some fool PAY; only, the power's gone out, and we all gotta scramble around and look for a candle andâ€”sffffhssss goes the matchâ€”and we see ours faces all orange-lit and smiling while the thunder booms down by the interstate. City of Refuge is Castanets. Castanets is Raymond Byron Magic Raposa.