Dreamcastle is just about the perfect name for the densely layered soundscape songs created by local indie singer-songwriter Jake Trujillo. With his latest, Bloom Delicacy, Trujillo hits lush and ethereal Radioheady melodies peeking out from Jeff Mangum-like autobiographical pieces, though his voice often strays more toward some bizarrely brilliant blend of Tea For the Tillerman-era Cat Stevens meets Thom Yorke croon in its timing and timbre and, charmingly, its imperfections.
Bloom is obviously a bedroom recording, and this works in Trujillo's favor, allowing him carte blanche to phase from brief moments of synth-pop weirdness and Mazzy Star slowness/brightness to an almost folky, country style, all while maintaining cohesive balance. These songs are, it would seem, painstakingly arranged just so—and they are beautiful, like the soundtrack to some kind of warm dream.
"I feel my spirit slipping away every night/but every day it will return to me at dawn," he sings on "Floral Pick," a love song indeed, but more a rumination on where our thoughts might wander when they're propelled by someone new. Oddly, it's reminiscent of Seal's "Kiss From a Rose"—no joke—but also of Northern California indie act Duster in its tracks-on-tracks big sound.
Trujillo also takes intelligent detours from quiet introspection into synth-heavy, major-to-minor chord territories both danceable yet thinkable, a deft choice that at first seems jarring but ultimately works when he pulls back into his guitar-driven arrangements. The shift from the lo-fi, almost new-wave thump beat of "Last Book, Vol. 2" into "Neon Limes" (arguably one of the more sparse offerings on Bloom) is just plain smart. It's an intriguing hint, perhaps, at areas Trujillo has yet to fully explore, but ones we hope he will.
Bloom isn't a departure from previous Dreamcastle works such as 2016's The Fixed Stars per se, but it is a maturation in terms of instrumentation and thematic work—a cleaner overall product and the strongest set of Trujillo tunes we've yet to hear. The floral motif insofar as the idea of rebirth, new beginnings and new feelings permeates his lyricism with a message that hits somewhere between a healthy fear (or maybe respect) of the unknown and an almost giddy excitement for the very same.
Album closer "A Delicate Bloom" recalls a pretty, yet subtly dark, classic like "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and makes Bloom worth it all on its own, but as far as albums listened to as a single concept go, this is among the best we've heard in ages—local or not. Is it perfect? Hardly. It may, in fact, be under-produced, but one can't help but feel this was deliberate, which is endearing in the end.
For now, Bloom Delicacy is available digitally (and affordably) through dream-castle.bandcamp.com with the promise of physical copies—complete with artwork painted by Trujillo himself—in the coming weeks. If Dreamcastle maintains its current trajectory, we'd expect bigger and better things than self-released material. Someone in a distro or label position should actually pay close attention to what he's got going on. There's a natural talent for beauty and poetry at play making Bloom Delicacy a must-own, especially with its paltry $9 pricetag. Straight-up—you need this.