Caustic Castle is the solo project of Kenneth Yates b. 1978, an American experimental musician, improviser and organizer from Richmond, Virginia. Experimenting with the no-input mixing technique, Kenneth uses the equalizer controls on the mixing board to tame the frequencies and sculpt the sound while applying various effects, filters and other electronic processing. Since 2000, Kenneth has performed in several experimental projects such as Harm Stryker [2000-2007], a politically and socially charged duo with Kelly Nourse of ConstantMauk; Insects with Tits [2006-present], a no-input duo with Roger H. Smith of Chefkirk with an underlying theme of Vegan action; and Never Work[2007-present]., a duo with Baltimore electro-acoustic artist Cory O'brien of Myo.
Kenneth has also collaborated live with artists such as Wendy Hsu, Carey Sargeant, Kevin Parks, Marty McCavitt, Darius Jones, Bonnie Jones, Stian Skagen, Clifford Schwing, Eric Eaton, Scott Allison, Chuck Bettis, Mark Price, and Jason Talbot.
Noise music, like the other important abstract nouns in the history of culture, is not a term meant to be defined, but a field to be explored. Through that exploration, the nature of noise and experimental music becomes inherently political. With Caustic Castle, sometimes comes an abstract fascination with architecture and its psycho geographical effects on the human psyche, and the role it can play in ones livelihood when actions are stunted by the burdens of capitalism. Inspired by past revolutionary movements such as DaDa, Surrealism, & the Situationiste Internationale, Caustic Castle struggles to find a parallel between art, sound, and social unrest, ultimately subscribing to the idea that it's sometimes better to ask questions, than claim to have all the answers.
Kenneth is responsible for co-founding the organization 804noise Richmond Experimental Collective [2001 - 2007] in Richmond, Virginia, and the (area code)noise concept that 804noise extended from. 804noise brought together artists and enthusiast who were dedicated to building the experimental, noise, and avant-garde art/ideas in the Richmond community. During the six-year existence of 804noise, Kenneth helped to galvanize the Richmond experimental community through open community meetings, festivals, workshops, interactive events designed to open a dialog among new artists in the area.
Building on the success of 804noise, Kenneth was involved in forging a strong link with neighboring artists in Charlottesville through the co-founding of Hz Collective [2007 - Present]. Similar to 804noise, HzCollective is an experimental, noise & improvised music collective that serves to develop the interest for experimental music in the Richmond and Charlottesville creative arts communities.
As a community arts organizer, Kenneth has organized events, festivals, and workshops in Richmond and Charlottesville, exposing these communities to the possibilities of sound while inviting people to participate in creating sound art on their own. Kenneth also works in the visual arena designing poster and installation art, and is actively involved with the radical art collective There Once Was a Rebellion [aka T.O.W.A.R. ]. Kenneth also had a hand in developing a community library and resource center in Richmond's Jackson Ward neighborhood called the Lucent Phoenix Community Library.
10.04.08 Sonic Circuits Festival 2008 w/ Matmos, Mattin, & Andrea Parkins - Washington D.C. 09.27.08 - Duet w/ Myo, Bonnie Jones + Kevin Parks, & Id M Theft Able - Richmond, VA 09.18.08 John Cage Celebration “Musicircus” - Richmond, VA 05.04.08 Solo w/ Violet, & Sudden Infant - Washington D.C. 03.07.08 Repressed III Art Show w/ Ami Dang & Cars Will Burn - Richmond, VA 02.12.08 Duet w/ Eric Eaton - Silent Film Revival - Richmond, VA 01.18.08 Solo w/ Bonnie Jones + Chuck Bettis - GATE - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 12.17.07 Improvisers Quartet w/ Ilya Monisov, Andy Hayleck, & Layne Garret - Washington, D.C. 12.12.07 Duet w/ Scott Allison, Bernhard Gal, & Stephen Vitiello - Richmond, VA 08.15.07 Solo w/ Jack Wright + Jason Talbot - Richmond, VA
Caustic Castle + Clfford Schwing [alto sax] ‘Makepiece’ 3“ CDR (SMTG Records) Reviewed By: http://vitalweekly.com
On a smaller disc we find Caustic Castle's 'Makepiece', which he created with one Clifford Schwing on soprano saxophone. Caustic Castle himself plays what is called 'electronics' - I suspect this to be a laptop, picking up the signals by Schwing, which he then processes. The first few minutes are taken by sustaining tones from the saxophone, producing overtones. When that is over things move into a more abstract land: a collage of all sort of sounds produced by the saxophone, not just by blowing it, but also hitting it, touching, rubbing etc. All of this is nicely transformed in a microsound like manner and Caustic Castle produced a really fine piece with these sound elements, along the lines of say Roel Meelkop.
Caustic Castle + Clfford Schwing [alto sax] ‘Makepiece’ 3“ CDR (SMTG Records) Reviewed By: http://foxydigitalis.com
An intriguing looking picture adorns the front cover of this mini-CDR from Richmond Virginia's Kenneth Yates (here working as Caustic Castle). The picture seems to be an older Kafka-esque institutional building, perhaps a state hospital. It's not a huge leap to suggest that Caustic Castle (collaborating with Clifford Schwing on soprano sax for this release) are trying to escape the hierarchies and expectations of tradition, as symbolized by the imposing building in the image. The sole track, a 16 minute piece, begins with a constant soprano sax note that is held for almost exactly five minutes. At first, the effect is to signal allegiance to minimalist tropes, but after the five minutes have passed, Yates brings the electronics to the fore, fades out the sax, and gives the listener some necessary relief. It's not the violent shock of volume or noise that gives a sense of unease here, but rather the relentless nature of the tones that ultimately leads to a claustrophobic fear. The rest of the piece is quite subtle and beautiful, with concrete elements and a mature sense of space and scope. The sax returns at the end to bring things full circle, but it's less oppressive this time. "Makepiece" is an intriguing release, and one that may test the listeners' mettle. At the same time however, if one gives oneself over to it, this little disc may be both inspirational and thought provoking at the same time. 7/10 -- Eric Hardiman (10 September, 2008)
Caustic Castle + Clfford Schwing [alto sax] ‘Makepiece’ 3“ CDR (SMTG Records) Reviewed By: http://www.angryape.com
“…Rounding this intriguing collector's item off is Kenneth Yates' Caustic Castle. Somewhat of a local noise hero, Yates has previously put his name to several projects and an impressive amount of net-based releases, 'Makepiece' is not for the faint-hearted. Kicking off with knotted, high pitched oscillations which sit together as comfortably as a child in a dentist chair. Yates then proceeds to bend and distort these signals to almost breaking point until you are aware of everything around you, before detonating wall of blackened silence, intercepted only by wraith-like voices and phantom breaths. As if his digital equipment is melting or that the binary code is evaporating 'Makepiece' then catapults into a deeply unsettling segment of chilling atmospherics and indecipherable voices, ensuring that this composition is the absolute antithesis of what the term ambient has come to be perceived as.”
Caustic Castle “Untitled” 3” (804noise Ltd.) Reviewed By: http://www.myspace.com/neozine
“Finally!!! I've been waiting on pins and needles for another great noise recording to listen to. Too much music and not enough noise makes this reviewer a cranky commenter. 804 noise (and the more general [area code] noise) brings the best goods for my addled ears. You have to check them out. You want to talk about underground/ DIY artist unity, this is where it happens. Caustic Castle is a project by the co-founder of 804 noise, so we're looking at some deep underground pedigree here. I wouldn't have mentioned that fact if the recording didn't match the prestige/ status of the artist. Caustic Castle matches quite well. The sound is mostly feedback and effect, but it isn't a "solid wall" of feedback. It is an ever-changing communicative process of ups and downs, silences and surges. This is pretty hot on the senses. I listened with headphones. Something that I noticed was that the clarity is great (can you have good clear fuzz? yes you can!) The mixing was also interesting. You get a lot of switching from speaker to speaker to get that bouncing stereo effect that just freaks you out. I found this CD to be a bit of a tension builder. As it rattles around in your fillings, it also churns adrenaline. There are some spacey bits, some ambient bits, some harsh places, and some interesting experiments. Every second was dynamic and destructive.”
Caustic Castle “Untitled” 3” (804noise Ltd.) Reviewed By: http://outerspacegamelan.blogspot.com/
“…Clocking in at 12 long minutes, "Untitled"'s three tracks are a decent, cheap way to clean your ears if you're plum out of Q-Tips. "Sharp Objects" sorta implodes into the air with a high-pitched whine before falling into the near-symphonic rhythm of what sounds like air drill blasts. "The People's Stoker" and "Knives and Daggers" both cover the glitchy, migraine-inducing terrain typically inhabited by folks like Yasunao Tone with a CD player or Kevin Drumm with a bad temper. I'm also kinda reminded of the New Blockaders, or even the Animal Disguise stalwarts like Mammal and Meerk Puffy…”
Caustic Castle “Untitled” 3” (804noise Ltd.) Reviewed By: http://www.mangenerated.com/blog/
“…The Caustic Castle 3” CD is the first one I had the chance to listen to. The 3” CD comes in a slick looking digi-box (not a standard 3” jewel case, 804 calls it a zipdisc) and simple, yet appealing artwork, total running time is some 12 minutes, a shorty, as 3?-releases generally clock in at some 20 minutes - but short is perfect. Three tracks on this one. The first track, sharp objects is mainly (unprocessed) feedback with some additional scrape-like sounds: a simple and calm track, perfectly matching its title. Track 2, the people stoker, is a pretty dark one, to which "sharp objects" is a perfect prelude: the track has a certain "live"-feel, creeping and gnarling with scraping sounds, abrasive clicks and bangs, the whole done in a well-thought, yet spontaneous manner, as such bearing some simularities with the material I've so far heard of Chefkirk. The track feels like something huge and mechanical slowly crawling towards and over you, and the more electronic sounds at the end of the track (or the beginning of the third?) might well be the sound of electric glitches in this insects' circuitry as it ponders on what to do next with you. Yeah, I've got a vivid imagination. (Funny that the word insect came in mind while listening to this 3? as I just learn through the 804noise-site that Kenneth Yates whose the front- and only- man of Caustic Castle is also involved in a project called Insects with Tits, a name that vaguely rings a bell, perhaps because it's so damned catchy). Track 3, knives and daggers, continues and builds further on that same mood 'n drive, but the live feel that marks the two other tracks seems to fade away a bit towards the end of the track when things start to get more loopy and repetitive. Still a fine track though! So to conclude this review with: Caustic Castle is a dark and gnarling release, only 12 minutes in length, but it's damned varied. You won't get bored listening to this one! Extensive listening sessions might cause a slight feel of paranaio though - Don't say we didn't warn you.”
Caustic Castle “Untitled 3” (804noise Ltd.) Reviewed By: NoiseEar
“...here are three tracks and the first one, Sharp Objects, is nothing more than a few high pitched bleeps and that come one after another. Not much is really mixed together in this track and there's not much flow. However, the tracks in this release get better as they go. Track two, The Peoples Stoker, as more of the high pitched tones but layered with it are low slow moving scrapes and pushes of static. This time there is more direction in the track and it has a lot more replay value than the first one. The third track, Knives And Daggers, features far more noise and layers. Again, there's a lot of high pitches and laser type sounds but there's more and more of it mixed with other happenings that get you more interested in what's going on. I like this track the best and it gets louder and better right to the end.”
Caustic Castle & Eric Eaton 8/15/2007
Caustic Castle & Eric Eaton Live 06-25-2007 - Richmond, Virginia
Pinko Communoids & Caustic Castle @ Art Space 02-17-2007
-Caustic Castle "Untitled" 3" CDR (804noise Ltd. Cat804LTD-007)
-Caustic Castle "Let Them Eat Cake" 'Various Artists - 703noise' (703noise)
-Caustic Castle "Live August 2006" - DEFRECS-30
-Caustic Castle 'A Monumental Moment with Eric Eaton' Net-Release (DaDaist Audio)
-Caustic Castle "Static Attack" Net-Release (ZeroMoon 087)
-Caustic Castle "Untitled Restraint" 'Various Artists' (Bloodties)
-Caustic Castle + Clifford Schwing "Makepiece" 3" CDR (SMTG Ltd. Records)
-Caustic Castle "Cast-Minus Nano Init" 'V/A 13 Seconds' - Net-Release & Ltd. CDR (RatSkin Records)
-Caustic Castle "Untitled" 'Sloppy Seconds - V/A' (Obscuria Records)
-Caustic Castle "Three Untitled" (Dim Records)
-Caustic Castle "Useless Audio To Set You Free" 'V/A' DADA100 - Net-Release (DaDaist Audio)
-Caustic Castle "Live 05.04.2008 Washington D.C." - Casette (FukkTapes)