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PALACE OF MIRRORS

Estradasphere

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Estradasphere Palace Of Mirrors  album cover
4.14 | 79 ratings | 6 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Title (0:33)
2. Palace of Mirrors (3:40)
3. A Corporate Merger (8:14)
4. The Terrible Beautypower of Meow (4:01)
5. Colossal Risk (4:36)
6. The Unfolding Pause On The Thresholdm (4:16)
7. Smuggled Mutation (4:43)
8. Six Hands (1:08)
9. The Debutante (2:40)
10. Flower Garden of An Evil Man (6:12)
11. Those Who Know... (5:16)
12. Palace of Mirrors Reprise (6:16)
13. The Return (6:19)

Total Time: 57:54

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Adam Stacey / Keyboards, Accordion
- Tim Smolens / Double Bass, Electric Bass
- Timb Harris / Violin, Trumpet
- Jason Schimmel / Guitar
- Lee Smith / Drums
- Kevin Kmetz Tsugaru / Shamisen, Guitar

Releases information

CD The End Records (2006)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to progkidjoel for the last updates
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Buy ESTRADASPHERE Palace Of Mirrors Music


Palace of MirrorsPalace of Mirrors
The End Records 2006
Audio CD$5.99
$0.89 (used)
Palace of Mirrors LivePalace of Mirrors Live
Multiple Formats
The End Records 2007
DVD$7.99
$5.98 (used)
Passion for LifePassion for Life
Mimicry 2004
Audio CD$15.74
$9.97 (used)
QuadropusQuadropus
Mimicry 2003
Audio CD$349.99
$25.00 (used)
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ESTRADASPHERE Palace Of Mirrors ratings distribution


4.14
(79 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
37%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
33%
Good, but non-essential (19%)
19%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

ESTRADASPHERE Palace Of Mirrors reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album is a journey. That's a phrase that gets used a lot, but I struggle to think of an occasion it's been a more appropriate descriptor than for this masterpiece. Estradasphere manages to combine orchestral music, metal, jazz, electronica, folk, noise, and even surf rock (as well as pretty much anything else you can think of) into one cohesive trip. You won't know where you're going on the voyage that this album takes you on, but I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy your travels.

"Title," at only about a half a minute, is really just an introduction. Some interesting electronics set the scene very nicely though, and when the strings and piano of "Palace of Mirrors" come in there's already a very nice contrast established. This title track is really a stellar piece of music, with compelling melodies and orchestration that remind one of a classical overture. I must confess that the first time I heard this song I was very surprised; I think that the label of "avant-garde" often carries a certain connotation for people, but despite the label "Palace of Mirrors" is an incredibly gorgeous song that has more in common with folk and classical music than with the occasionally hard to digest "typical" avant sound (oxymoronic as that phrase may be).

"A Corporate Merger" begins on a decidedly jazzier note, though there's a decidedly European folk vibe as well. In fact, though my experience with the music of Ennio Morricone is very limited, I can hear resemblances to his music here. Violin is a dominant presence for much of the track, with frenetic, virtuosic playing and, like "Palace of Mirrors" a strong sense of melody throughout. The structure is very jazzy, with various instruments soloing over a more or less consistent drum and bass line throughout the course of the track, and I have to say the playing on these solos is some of the most compelling I've ever heard. The sound is incredibly tight as well, with all the musicians sounding completely in sync. This is especially true towards the end, as the tempo quickly increases to a light-speed fever pitch, and yet, the listener never gets the feeling that the musicians are sweating. An incredibly well-performed piece of music, "A Corporate Merger" really shows that the members of Estradasphere are nothing if not extremely competent musicians.

"The Terrible Beautypower of Meow" starts off on a much more melancholic note, no less gorgeously melodic but certainly more subdued than "A Corporate Merger." However, this all changes around the 1 minute mark as the track switches into a brilliant pastiche of beach rock and vintage, 50s sounding pop. It's an incredibly evocative combination that suggests images of old-fashioned convertibles cruising along a coastal road, and it really just evokes a kind of longing for a simpler time.

"Colossal Risk" takes another abrupt left turn, starting off with a slinky melody that wouldn't sound out of place on the soundtrack to The Godfather. However, the track again drastically switches its sound after about a minute, changing into what sounds like a combination of Dick Dale and a bombastic Modest Mussorgsky piece. There's a softer section towards the middle of the track as well that features lush, gorgeous strings and some wordless, almost operatic female vocals. Horns feature prominently for much of the track as well, and "Colossal Risk" ends up being incredibly varied track even by the high standards already set by the album.

"The Unfolding Pause On The Threshold" begins on a much more explicitly experimental note, with a variety of electronic effects creating a very unsettling atmosphere. Percussion takes on a very prominent role, pounding through the sound effects while still working with them to create a very heavy, insistent pseudo-melody. The combination of percussion and electronics creates an almost industrial feel, and the track as a whole is a drastic but still totally appropriate break from the strong melodic themes of most of the previous tracks. It really is impressive how many different genres Estradasphere is able to incorporate seamlessly into the album, and I think that's really a testament to the strength of their compositional abilities.

"Smuggled Mutation" has a rather idiosyncratic beginning, with a violin part that sounds raw and wavering in contrast to the lush strings that permeate most of the other tracks. However, the track quickly launches into an insanely frenetic motif, with lightning-fast violin playing and heavy guitar parts that almost have thrash metal overtones. The violin and guitar play off of each other brilliantly, and some minimally but brilliantly used horns give the track a kind of insane carnival feel. In addition, the technical proficiency here is very impressive as well, and while that's not (by itself) what makes the track so good it is a nice little bonus.

Speaking of carnival music, "Six Hands" also makes excellent use of that sort of motif, with a playful toy piano sound and some excellent folky melodies as well. However, at just over a minute it's more of an interlude than anything, though a very good one.

Next up is "The Debutante," which, despite any labels you want to put on Estradasphere's music, is nothing less than beautiful. With gorgeous, bittersweet melodies and numerous heart-wrenchingly emotive horn solos, this track has probably brought me closer to tears more times than any other piece of music I can think of. Something about it is just so incredibly evocative that I can't help but be blown away every time I hear it.

"Flower Garden Of An Evil Man," on the other hand, is the complete opposite. With rumbling, ominous drones taking up most of the first two minutes, the track is just as sinister as "The Debutante" was moving. Even when a more standard melody does come in, it sounds incredibly dark and knotty compared to the wide-open previous track. Despite that, it's still a very evocative track in its own right, with a climatic, cinematic feel that wouldn't sound out of place over the finale of an action movie. A brief, distorted section in the final third of the track breaks up this motif a bit, but the track finishes grandly before fading to a distorted electronic drone.

"Those Who Know" turns to a totally different source for melodic inspiration, with a decidedly eastern feel. Violin is again at the forefront, and the track on the whole sounds much more carefree and lighthearted than either of the previous two, with multiple breakdowns that almost have a bluegrass feel to them. Another awesome horn part makes an appearance as well, as does an amazingly orchestrated section towards the end. As a result, the end of the track feels incredibly climactic, as horns, strings, and even some wordless chants coalesce into one grand sound.

"Palace of Mirrors Reprise" is exactly what it sounds like, and it's everything a reprise should be. Drastically switching up the instrumentation while keeping the same melodic line really gives the album a sense of holistic power, as it really makes the listener feel as if upon returning to the same place they began they can see it totally differently for having taken the journey. Not content to ever let the listener feel completely in control of the situation, however, the end track spirals into a veritable wall of sound, with pulsing drones and distorted sound clips both disorienting the listener and preparing them for the final track.

?And what a finale it is. After completing the journey that is this album, "The Return" is a crashing conclusion that reminds the listener of everything great about the album. Heavy guitars interlace with insane violins, melodies clash with pounding riffs and beauty combines with pure, unadulterated aggression to create an absolute monster of a track. A stunner of a finale for what is certainly a stunner of an album.

Don't be afraid of the avant-garde label. As I've hopefully been able to convey, this is an incredibly melodic album in spite of its rampant experimentalism. This is really an album that deserves to be on any list of modern masterpieces, and with its genre bending and strict avoidance of predictability, it's the very definition of progressive music.

5/5

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#702474) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 01, 2012

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The RIO/Avant-Prog genre has a vast canvas of artists from a broad range of influences. Therefore, it can be difficult for a band to really step out as a unique entity within this very music- driven genre. Estradasphere doesn't quite hit the mark that I have come to expect from this sub- genre.

My basic understanding of this band is if French TV replaced their Cantebury sound with that of metal and Eastern European classical music. Kind of a strange brew of styles considering that when the metal, surf, gypsy and classical do merge, the sound is excellent and ''Colossal Risk'', ''The Return'' and ''Corporate Merger'' pull the style bending technique quite well. The song lengths are also kept at a premium meaning that many have time to develop and few overstay their welcome (the longest song is just past eight minutes). The muscle of PALACE OF MIRRORS comes from violinist Timb Harris as he weaves from beautiful classic (title track) to foot-stomping ballroom music (''Smuggled Mutation'') all with a technical flair that's to be expected from a violin prominent in prog music.

Sadly, I cannot grasp PALACE OF MIRRORS as a whole album mainly in that there isn't one cohesive style. ''Smuggled Mutation'' is a fine country-influenced number, but the sudden shifting of styles ends up serving the album like ''Anyone's Daughter'' from Deep Purple's FIREBALL album; a more country-influenced tune just comes out of nowhere. Keeping the overall cohesion in mind, you sometimes get a classic song, then a surf-jazz, then a surf-metal song, all within an Estradasphere sound (I CAN tell that the band is aiming for a particular sound) but enough of a shift to knock the equilibrium of PALACE OF MIRRORS out of line. And the Big-Lipped Alligator Award has to go to ''The Unfolding Pause on the Threshold'', a four-minute-long segue that ploys with Nintendo sounding keyboards.

Estradasphere never quite show me how much different they are compared to other RIO bands, so PALACE OF MIRRORS really doesn't stick out in terms of overall achievement. I give them credit for bringing in the shamisen prominently on ''Those Who Know?'', the album's best track. Definitely for the hardcore avant-prog fans, and I can almost get feeling behind the music, but not quite.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#965526) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 27, 2013

Latest members reviews

5 stars Estradasphere are a gloriously eclectic and innovative ensemble, and Palace of Mirrors is their masterpiece. In addition to revealing their virtuoso musicianship, compositional prowess, and versatility, Palace of Mirrors displays a cinematic grandeur only found on the best progressive concept al ... (read more)

Report this review (#168854) | Posted by Quantum Tuba | Sunday, April 27, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Estradasphere has already released a few albums, but Palace of Mirrors is probably their finest effort yet. It manages to mix in a myriad of styles in that seem to flow together nicely. The effect is that the album sounds nice and smooth. I must also comment that "The Terrible Beautypower of Meo ... (read more)

Report this review (#135793) | Posted by cookieacquired | Saturday, September 01, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "The Transformation will begin!..." Estradasphere came as quite a shock to me, when I had first discovered them. Unfamiliar with most of the bands, styles and underlying quirkiness of the genre, this album sorely confused me upon my first listen. What was it? Metal? Jazz? Folk? I could bar ... (read more)

Report this review (#132077) | Posted by Drakk | Monday, August 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A soundtrack to a possible world I stumbled upon Estradasphere about two years ago, in a time when I thought I had already discovered just about every crazy thing possible in music (now I'm pretty sure I'm far from that). I was reading a review somewhere and it said something along the li ... (read more)

Report this review (#114867) | Posted by Uroboros | Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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