Review Oliver Castillo – Laboratorio V02
Some artists decide to give us their works in different volumes. This is the case of Oliver Castillo, who suffered an incident in 2015 that motivated him to review his creative vault. After that, he summoned his colleagues and friends to give shape to Laboratorio – a project that, as its name suggests, is nourished by the experimentation and spontaneous contribution of the participants.
Castillo is an established figure in Lima’s heavy rock and alternative metal scene. As a bass player, he has been performing in the concert venues of the Peruvian capital since 1994, when he founded the band D’mente Común with Jeremy Castillo and Daniel Willis. However, his life changed eight years ago when he was diagnosed with a physical problem that prevented him from playing properly and caused pain in his hands and arms.
“At that point, I decided to revisit discarded compositions and work on them with musician friends as guests,” said Oliver. The first track that appeared was “Libélula” with guitarist Ricardo Méndez. That was the genesis of the project. “Something I like about this proposal is that I give empty canvases to the guests. Just simple demos with drums, bass, and no arrangements.” In 2020, he finally released Laboratorio V01, the first volume of this series of albums.
But he still had demos in the vault. Together with Kenneth Quiroz, Castillo began producing, mixing, and mastering 13 new songs. Sadly, Quiroz passed away in April 2021, leaving a void in the Peruvian music scene and the development of this project. For this reason, producer Daniel Willis took over from him. Guests Magali Luque, Tavo Castillo, Walter Cobos, Veronik, Renzo Perales, Gabriel Infantas, André Vasquez, Marmotasdebemorir, Sarid Challco, Daniel Willis, and Vhako also joined in. Thus, Castillo released Laboratorio V02 (Self-published, 2023), a second volume with a greater variety of styles, formats, and musical arrangements. For example, in the track “Mariposas,” the bass guitar interacts with the steel guitar of his father, Tavo Castillo, keyboardist of the legendary Peruvian band Frágil. We can appreciate a similar dynamic in “Ballena,” where the theremin and Veronik’s vocal phrases create an environment of post-rock sounds.
In “Leviatán” the heaviest rock returns with the tremendous instrumental contribution in winds and strings by Magali Luque and Daniel López Gutiérrez. Another highlight is “Escorpión,” where Oliver’s funky bass meets in an ideal counterpoint with VHAKO’s trumpet. These apparent musical contradictions show that Castillo has stepped out of his comfort zone in Laboratorio V02, achieving a colorful, diverse, and energetic album. The good news is that there will surely be a third volume of the project, so his work is still in constant process.
Laboratorio V02 is available on Spotify
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