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Estradasphere - Buck Fever CD (album) cover





4.24 | 58 ratings

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4 stars Talk about eclectism: 8/10

ESTRADASPHERE is a side-project of musicians from SECRET CHIEFS 3 which in turn was originally a side-project (but now permanent) of Trey Spruance from MR BUNGLE. The only similarity on the three bands though is that they all are avant-garde and share somewhat mutual musicians because their approach on experimental music differ completely.

The experimental eminence of ESTRADASPHERE lies on their lack of cohesion, or "innovative songwriting and structuring" if you like fancy definitions, but NOT on inaccessible and difficult Frankenstein as say grandpa MR BUNGLE builds. This characteristic (approachability) was inherited (and improved) from daddy SECRET CHIEFS 3. Therefore, it's pretty accessible. A pleasant surprise.

The songs in BUCK FEVER, as said, are fragmented and disjoint (uncoherent), they present various sections all of which demonstrate different genres which dynamically alters between the vast arrays of styles within the multi- instrumentalist six musicians' grasp. In a moment, they might be playing jazzy bossa nova, moving right after to circus music and then to symphonic funk. There are also generous doses of black metal (although they are isolated in their own tracks, they don't interact with the multi-stylistical tracks) and rather humorous video game 8-bit songs (and a jazz swing cover of Super Mario Bros 2's theme!).

They could develop their ideas freely, as apparently money was not an issue: not only the record has great quality but also there is a huge assortment of multiethnic instruments, ranging from (Australian) Aboriginal horns to African percussions. I find the variety refreshing, the gigantic amount of things they use guarantee unique multiplicity of sounds. However, I need to acknowledge they have a clear preference for brass instruments, as they are nigh omnipresent and peppers almost every song.

For as much there is a constant shift with countless styles, ESTRADASPHERE does present moments with their unique sound, a syncretism of jazz (pre-bop? Post-bop? Hard-bop? Something bop, I guess), symphonic brass and a delicious funky slappy electric guitar.

Worth mentioning is the concept, blurred between ironic appraisal and implicit criticism of ole 'Murican idolatry of hunting. Buck fever is actually a term for Americans hell-bent on killing every single horned ruminant mammal (deer) within their vicinities' temperate woods. I say the concept is difficult to understand because there are moments that can be identified as criticism but also lapses of sarcasm, and it begs the question: are they indeed detractors or just jesting around? Personally, I feel that they express their humorous, satirical view on this issue through their jazz/rock tracks, whereas their thoughtful ecologist opinions are expressed in the black metal ones.

Back to the music. I will be honest. The first time I listened to their album I went to delirium. The musicianship is indeed spectacular, the copious amounts of intertwined layers that confers enthusiasm, the brassy overload, the symphonic black metal pieces? I was betting my buttons this would be a favorite of mine. Sadly, it isn't: 72 minutes is perhaps too long for me. After a while, the ecstatic boot loses adrenaline and ESTRADASPHERE's hitherto absurd deliciousness vanishes. Well, I still think them of proficient experimental (jazz) musicians, but not as brave genre voyagers as I used to.

The reason why I still highly regard (and rate) this album, though, is that its highlights are indeed worth highlighting. It begins with the dystopian and environmentalist The Silent Elk of Yesterday. Through mighty symphonies that build a dark atmosphere, female soprano singings and melodic black metal riffs, the band leaves its dystopian thoughts on the overly predatory behavior of men. Happily, there's none of that "lo-fi" and "anti-technical" bs common to black metal, so don't be afraid of sh***y brutality. Sweet guitar solo. I recommend watching the music video, the propositional (satirical, most likely) cheesiness of black metal tropes such as evil Satanic men singing in boreal forests and solos so melodic the guitarist literally is set ablaze. "The deer shoot back" is the emblematic line that characterizes the song.

Meteorite Showers is a delicious retro track that features a swing-revival core (sprinkled with various midsections from bossa nova to circus music) that'll probably stick in your mind (it did on mine), followed by a doo- wop one. The doo-wop is state-of-art: rhythm, vocal harmonies, 50s American accent, singing style, upright bass solo, all done terrifically.

The Bounty Hunter is where their Latin jazz excels. Using it as core, there are various different styles structured upon it, all of them sound fantastic when syncretized.

A Very Intense Battle is the lo-fi evil black metal tool in the shed, atmospheric, virulent, and very intense. What Deers May Come is a meditative, atmospheric Balkanic traditional folk music. This is where both the didjeridu (Australian horn) and djembe (African percussion) joins several other instruments to create the resonating ambience.

There is almost eight instruments for every musician and I could identify at least nine genres here. In conclusion, there is a considerable collection of diversity in BUCK FEVER, all played surprisingly well. Not for the faint of heart, lovers of slow tempo, or stillness adorers. Instead, I recommend for anyone who wants to listen to new, different stuff - stuff that morphs into completely different shapes repeatedly, and people who want to get into Avant-prog without hopping into stuff way too weird right away. The album is available on YouTube for anyone who wants to do test-drive.

Luqueasaur | 4/5 |


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