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2h5np50.jpgGavin Castleton
Five One, Inc.

Some albums are haunting, others are bizarre, and still others are downright incomprehensible. Gavin Castleton’s Home is in the very last category. The discordant album, a mix of synthesizer keyboards, frenetic guitars and the occasional orchestral orchestra, has more in common with avant-garde opera rock than straight up rock n’roll. No wonder it isn’t getting much airplay. Well, the press doesn’t know what it’s missing, because while it may not be as poppy as anything on the Top 40 these days, it is anything but boring. In fact, it is captivating, albeit in a manner more reflective of musical version of David Lynch.

The album, billed as a narrative of a zombie apocalypse, is appropriately dark and foreboding- as the atonal chords and chilling lyrics of “Bugguts” suggest. As Castleton sings “I wish I were a cockroach…/I’d finally find my peace in an exoskeleton,” one gets the impression he is trapped in a claustrophobic room or a grimy New York hotel besieged by angry monsters out to feast on his sumptuous brain. Yet the record is more than an ode to George Romero. It is a metaphor of love- of love lost and gained, the despair of loneliness, the howling hours of doubt. That too is no accident- Castleton broke up with his fiancé during the recording on the record, giving it a Blood on the Tracks-style feel.

Castleton’s eerie voice duels vocals with Lauren Coleman, who plays the female lead on the album. Coleman’s silky voice and emotional range gives her character a certain complexity that would otherwise be lacking. While Castleton deserves credit for bringing the concept of the album to life despite the economic and technical obstacles against him, it is just as much her baby as his, as without her none of the tracks would be possible. The songs’ emotional authenticity helps a great deal. But the real stars are the angry, haunting synths, bringing to mind thoughts of all things spooky and dark, from dark forests to desolate highways.

While some of the tracks can run pretty long- witness “The Human Torch”- on balance, they are perfectly timed. Though the concept of Home might be off-putting to those looking for poppy faire, at $9.99 via iTunes, it’s worth a listen.

– Jack Winn