Castanets’ Ray Raposa Dead At 41
Ray Raposa, best known as the force behind Castanets, has died. He was 41. The news was confirmed on Sufjan Stevens’ Tumblr, where Stevens wrote in a statement: “Ray Raposa passed away yesterday. He was a bright star, a good friend, and a great musician. It was always such a joy and a fierce spiritual journey to work with him. Heavy hearts and deep sorrows over here. Ray, may your soul glimmer brightly on the other side! And may perpetual light shine upon you. I love you.”
Raposa’s family also shared a statement via Riot Act Media: “It is with great sorrow that the family of Raymond Raposa announce his passing. Raymond was a wonderful son, brother, uncle, friend, and musician. He will be greatly missed.”
Born in 1981 in Michigan City, Indiana, Raposa grew up in California and got his start as a musician in the free-jazz group Womb. After testing out of high school at age 15, Raposa bussed around the US for four years via Greyhound. He soon caught the attention of Stevens, who heard his collaboration with Nathan Delffs (2002’s What Kind Of Cure), and Stevens soon signed Raposa to his label, Asthmatic Kitty. In 2004, the two moved to Brooklyn.
In 2004, Raposa released his first project, Cathedral, as Castanets. As the project grew in visibility, Castanets became a prominent force in the ’00s freak-folk movement. He released six more albums under the name: 2005’s First Light’s Freeze, 2007’s In The Vines, 2008’s City Of Refuge, 2009’s Texas Rose, The Thaw, And The Beasts, 2012’s Little Death Shaker, and 2014’s Decimation Blues.
Over the course of his career, Raposa’s touring band featured St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent, Jana Hunter and Red Hunter (aka Peter And The Wolf), and John McCauley of Deer Tick. He also toured with the Black Heart Procession, Deer Tick, Dirty Projectors, Michael Gira, Hunter, Scout Niblett, Phosphorescent, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, and plenty of others.