Anybody who grew up in the ‘80s in Hawaii probably can vaguely recall an amusement park tucked away near Aloha Stadium and Ice Palace. It had an arcade, batting cages, three mini-golf courses, go carts and a water park. It closed so long ago that for many of us, it’s a distant memory that can only be pieced together in fragments.
A few years ago, local musician Kelii Wong had an idea to tap into this nostalgia and formed a live hip-hop group bearing the name of this largely forgotten island distraction: Castle Park.
Kelii has been a solid figure in the island music underground, playing drums with Family Fun (ska/punk-rock), Dreaded Youth (dub-reggae), Microscopic Syllables (hip-hop), The Spacifics (hiphop), which collaborated with several local emcees, and Sample (hip-hop), which backed Prie.
Kelii also has been consistently creating his own tracks. After having been a contributing source for so many music groups, he wanted to take on the role of being the musical director for a project and hand-selected members to share the vision of what he wanted to create. He assembled an all-star cast, comprised of guitarist Paul Bajcar (of P∆G∑), long-time buddy/guitar player Sean Ho, Danny Mawyer on bass and the enigmatic Travis Cix, a skilled lyricist and wordsmith.
When Kelii first told me about the Castle Park project, I had never seen him so lit up and sure that he was starting something special. He often would pull me aside at shows and have me listen to his demos. He would fill me in on the progress of how the sound was developing, and I haven’t been more excited to hear a local act drop their material.
Last weekend at McCully’s About The Goods store, I finally got to witness a finished product by Castle Park: a video shot by local independent filmmaker Vincent Ricafort for their song Wolf Parade. The video had a 16mm desaturated look and the camera angles gave it a bit of a horror-movie feel. What’s most impressive and unique about this video is that the audio track was actually recorded live and simultaneously with the video. With three cameras rolling, you might not know that it was just one guy who did all the video work, and with the band playing so precisely, you’d think the audio was pre-recorded as in many television “live” performances. Wolf Parade features an unrelenting droning bass-line and hard banging drums that drive the track forward with delicate guitars creating shimmering wahs and eerie melodies a la Wu-Tang Clan’s C.R.E.A.M. Cix’s wordplay is so adept that even after several listens, more coded meanings, double entendres and metaphors become clear.
The band’s sound is solid, jazzy live funk with occasional smooth surf rock melodic lines funneled into hip-hop. Reminiscent of Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Mobb Deep and The Roots, Castle Park is doing it big and bringing it to you live and direct.
YOU CAN CHECK OUT CASTLE PARK’S ‘WOLF PARADE’ VIDEO HERE: TINYURL.COM/CASTLEPARK1