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ESTRADASPHERE

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Estradasphere biography
Guitarist Jason Schimmel and bassist Tim Smolens met in 7th grade at Miraleste High School. In 1997, their band Don Salsa recorded its first album, "Koolaid Moustache In Jonestown." In 1998, Jason and Tim moved to Santa Cruz, CA. Jason attended UC Santa Cruz, along with Timb Harris, John Whooley, and Dave Murray. At that time, John, Tim, Jason, Dave, and Jason Conception played downtown in the streets of Santa Cruz. Jason Conception left the band to pursue Netwerk:Electric, his other project. In December 1998, Timb Harris joined the band. The band continued to play the streets and at local coffee shops.

On January 7, 2000, Estradasphere held its first concert at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. This was a pivotal show for the band, and they began to play clubs exclusively. Later that year, they released their first album "It's Understood" on Trey Spruance's label, Mimicry Records. They went on their first North American tour, opening for Secret Chiefs 3.

In 2001, Estradasphere released their first EP, The Silent Elk Of Yesterday, which included a few new studio tracks, and some live performances. They also went on their second North American tour with the band Tub Ring.

The band released their second full length album, "Buck Fever" in Spring of 2002. Later that year, drummer Dave Murray decided to quit the band.

In 2003, they released their third full length album "Quadropus." Because they did not have a full time drummer, several guest drummers appeared on this album, including Dave Murray. In Spring of 2004, they released a DVD of life footage called "Passion for Life." It contained a full length DVD as well as a CD that included some live tracks and other material.

In early 2004, John Whooley left Estradasphere. Kevin Kmetz and Adam Stacey joined the band to replace him. They played their first show together as a new band with guest drummer Theo Mordey at 2004's SXSW Festival. After a few months of recruitment for a new drummer, Lee Smith moved from Atlanta to join Estradasphere as their permanent drummer.

Estradasphere played several shows as a new band throughout late 2004 and early 2005. They are currently busy in the studio recording a new album.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estradasphere



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Palace of MirrorsPalace of Mirrors
The End Records 2006
Audio CD$6.77
$0.99 (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 discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ESTRADASPHERE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.29 | 33 ratings
It's Understood
2000
3.74 | 39 ratings
Buck Fever
2001
3.04 | 25 ratings
Quadropus
2003
4.14 | 79 ratings
Palace Of Mirrors
2006

ESTRADASPHERE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ESTRADASPHERE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.50 | 6 ratings
Passion For Life
2004
3.50 | 2 ratings
Palace of Mirrors Live
2007

ESTRADASPHERE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

ESTRADASPHERE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.78 | 9 ratings
The Silent Elk Of Yesterday
2001

ESTRADASPHERE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Palace Of Mirrors  by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.14 | 79 ratings

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Palace Of Mirrors
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

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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 Palace Of Mirrors  by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.14 | 79 ratings

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Palace Of Mirrors
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

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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 Quadropus by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.04 | 25 ratings

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Quadropus
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Brendan

3 stars Well boys, mark this one down as one of the 'must get' bands of modern prog. Neither they sounds like a clone of an earlier band; rather a mixture of different elements that all come together well.

They are classed under 'Avant-RIO', admittedly a genre I don't know a lot about, but using definitions outside of this they are a blend of Eastern / middle Eastern folk with jazz-rock fusion. death metal (unfortunately) and pop exploration. If I were to compare them to any band that came before, I would say Works-era Emerson Lake and Palmer, in that they sound like an eccentric cacophany of genre's that no-one else want's to touch, at least no one else in the prog world. As no one else in 1977 wanted to touch Rag-Time, Cabaret and the like, very few prog-bands in 2003 would mix Beach Boys send ups with Jazz-rock and Eastern folk music. Even, you wonder if they intended to be 'prog' at all, but that's okay, they're refreshing.

The first song is an interesting Eastern European folk song, it's interesting to hear in a world of organs and Heavy guitars. Th is is followed by one of my favourite songs on the album, 'Dubway'. Dubway is what I would call 'vocal techno', it's techno music but the beats and rhythms are all made by making/singing noises into the microphone. I think it must take a lot of skill to pull such a thing off so well, and actually turn it into an infectious piece of pop music. Followed by 'King Krab Battle', an interesting jazz-rock fusion piece, although there are moments when the song turns into a 'death-metal' song, and I can't see that as being a good mix. 'Speck' is a haunting ballad, like something the Moody Blues would have done in the late 60's (e.g. Candle of life), but it is done poorly. Needs better vocals, at least.

Then comes the highlight of the album, 'Hardball', a twisting turning long song that mixes various Eastern and sometimes middle Eastern folk with jazz-rock fusion, and gets up towards the 15 minute mark. Now I might have been complaining about Yes songs in the mid 70's being dragged out to 20 minutes and it was more of an exercise, and was a chore for the listener to sit through, and maybe some folks might think I'm not a real 'progger', and that may be true... but I enjoyed every minute of Hardball, enjoyed how it kept progressing and felt liek it was working towards something. Now if this song was 24 hours long, no problem! I'd call my workplace up sick and take the time to listen to it! I would sit down for the 24 hour duration and probably enjoy every minute of it. But ten minutes of Siberian Khatru is ten minutes too long.... sorry...

Hardball is followed up by a similar sounding 'Car Ride through Idealistic Ethiopia', though this song is a bit more psychedelic. Actually, it's a breath-taking piece of a mix of styles, and to demonstrate their abilites, they do this 'radio tuning' effect, to make it seem they are changing stations, and when they settle on a new station, it's a different style playing the same melodic theme as was present before they changed stations. So, with those two pieces, there is at least 20 minutes of excellent music.

They are followed by four shorter piece, Crystal Blue, an enjoyable but sloppy Early rock n roll meets Beach Boys tune, A couple of awful piece of 'Death-Metal'; 'Jungle Warfare' (Prog- Metal) and 'Bodyslam' (straight metal) and a Beach Boys ballad send-up 'At least we have today', though this is also sending up Van Morrison, I suspect. Sure, how it keeps restarting after minutes of silence is a bad idea, but the original 2 1/2 minutes is very enjoyable.

From the praise I was giving you may think I would give it ****, but in light of two terrible pieces of metal, I cannot rate any higher than ***. Jungle Warfare is worse for trying to be prog, it shows you can 'prog up' anything, so you could have 'progressive crap' or 'progressive traffic samples' or the like. At least 'Bodyslam' tries to be fun, now wasn't that what rock was suppose to be all about? Of forget that, that's such an old theory, went out-of- date in the early-90's....

But I have to admit, having heard this Estradasphere album, it made me want to go and reduce ratings I had given to bands such as Porcupine Tree and Transatlantic. On 'Quadropus', hear all those different instruments, so many... On a Transatlantic album it's just same old guitar/organ/synth combo, and the synths are strictly Banks/Wakeman retreads. So it's ncie to hear people who can bring more sounds to the table than what has already been.

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 Palace Of Mirrors  by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.14 | 79 ratings

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Palace Of Mirrors
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Quantum Tuba

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 albums.

Like many of their avant prog comrades, Estradasphere incorporates more musical styles into their compositions than a musicology professor overdosing on Jolt Cola. At various points, the music evokes classical orchestras, mellow soul jazz, head banging metal, and a Japanese take on gypsy. When a group incorporates such disparate influences, there is a risk of producing a disjointed mess; however, the ensemble is very deft at developing transitions, permitting their wildly diverse album to tell a coherent tale without the need for words.

In addition to being a great avant prog album, Palace of Mirrors is rather accessible to those who are unfamiliar with this style. The melodies, though complex, are very aesthetically pleasing, which makes them a good jumping off point to the arguably more difficult works of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Mr. Bungle.

The real reason this is an essential masterpiece of progressive music is simple: no other album is like it. If I find another coherent musical journey that features shamisen solos over funk grooves or thrash metal with violin and a full brass section, I will be very surprised.

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 Quadropus by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.04 | 25 ratings

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Quadropus
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by cookieacquired

3 stars Can you unscramble an egg?

This is the question Estradasphere has been posed, or at least try to answer, on their Quadropus (with a wicked picture of the green 'pus fellow on the cover). This cover does look cool, and reminds me of some sort of jade ruin stone, or amulet, something epic-looking, yet sinister and mysterious. It is the harbinger of the cover of the album, with Estradasphere trying to de-mystify their traditional hodge-podge of genres.

The result is that, if taken alone, each song can sound semi-serious to its respective genre. Together, they add a whole new dynamic, and they sort of compliment each other. To really have fun with this album, you must hear other Estradasphere and see how much they meld genres, and switch them abruptly in the middle of a song. Otherwise, you might not really get it, in quotes for lack of a better phrase, and then I don't know really how this album'd sound to you.

Anyhoot, individual track time. Actually this section might seem a little vestigial for Quadropus, as the title of each track gives a comprehensive enough description of it. Digressing from that, the album kicks off with Mekapses Yitonisa, which is a Greek/Gypsy Roots/Folk song and also happens to be one of the better tracks of the album. It is very upbeat, and is a style that Estradasphere can do, while still putting their own flair to it. Next up is Dubway, a beat-box experimental techno thingy, with vocal samples. Not very complex, but something I really haven't heard the band do, and if not good, is cool. Then up comes King Krab Battle which contains some smooth sax, and sounds like a jazz version of a battle theme of a video game. It clocks in at 8 and a half minutes, so it's good there's meat to it. Note that was one of the better (if not best) tracks on the album.

Next are a few jazz rock pieces, and that's the point. A few of them. I guess Estradasphere lost that whole, different singular genre each track thing, as these sound all similar, and should've really just been called a suite. I must admit, though Hardball does a feat, in that it seems eternal, like it will go on forever. It's 13 and a half minutes, which I could tolerate, but this song drags on. and on.

On the other side of this long piece is Crystal Blue, which could be my favorite track off the album. It's a surf rock song with all the cliches of the genre. Think Back in the USSR, the song it reminds me a lot of. The soaring guitar, drums, the backing vocals, all work perfectly. Best case scenario for isolating the genres they play.

One of my biggest gripes with not only the album, but the band itself is exemplified in the next two song, and that is this: PLEASE, stop doing that metal, okay? The growling vocals, the crunching guitar, doesn't work for the band. At all. STOP IT.

Finally, Quadropus ends with At Least We'd Have Today, which seems daunting at 9 minutes in length. It starts off as the most trite, frivolous love song with the most banal lyrics ever. And it doesn't develop over the course of the song. At around 4 minutes it ends. Then the obligatory silence, and the bonus track, which is the same song, except the lyrics, while sounding identical, are switched up a bit, to make it funnier. It ends with the most overpronunciation of the word Today I've ever heard. Then more silence, like 2 or 3 minutes worth, then some sound clip, then the end.

I felt underwhelmed, it didn't really work. Some of the songs are great, there are some experiments, and just more of the same with some. The album was also missing Estradasphere's sense of humor for the most part, and that really detracted from it. It seems like they fluffed up the album to increase it's length and that makes it drag a bit. Overall, not a great place to start listening to Estradasphere. For fans of the band however, it's a fine addition once you've got some of their other works.

I couldn't sleep giving it two stars (as it does have some standouts, like Mekapses Yitonisa, King Krab, and Crystal Blue), but four stars seems like waaaaaaaaaaaay too much for it. Three stars is just dandy.

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 Quadropus by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.04 | 25 ratings

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Quadropus
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Drakk

3 stars Estradasphere's 3rd (or 4th, if you count their EP) release is the last we will have with Dave Murray and John Whooley, which leaves the band much at a loss for members. While this album certainly isn't bad, it lacks the flare and creativity of their first 2 CDs.

While there are some wonderful tracks, there are those really don't add anything to the album. Also, the humour has all but left the feel to the album, and while there are some instances, Body Slam always makes me smile when I listen to it, the zany humor has been taken from the overall sound. It also seems to try and rehash some of their older material, Hardball almost sounds like Hunger Strike Revisited, and some tracks just aren't that interesting, like Speck.

However, there are some wonderful tracks to make up for that which isn't all that interesting. King Krab Battle is a wonderfully cheesy Big Band Jazz piece, with some heavy metal near the end, and songs like Junge Warfare and Crystal Blue remind the us of older Estradasphere material. Mekapses Yitsonia is a wonderful folky piece that changes into a hard rocking track halfway through, and Dubway is an interesting accapella piece, by the one and onely Whoohoolicious.

A solid, if somewhat sub-par output by one of my favorite bands.

3 Stars.

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 Quadropus by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.04 | 25 ratings

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Quadropus
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by laplace
Prog Reviewer

2 stars To this reviewer, despite them employing a great cast of multi-instrumentalists and touching on positive influences - particularly Zappa, Oingo Boingo, rock Andaluz and the traditional folk music of any number of countries - Estradasphere's releases always seem like tastelessly absurd and eclectic compilations; in order to enjoy their albums you would need to share their peculiar senses of humour as well as have a taste for their distinctly hit and miss music. Quadropus is no different and there's barely a recognisable thread to the songs to suggest they need to occupy the same CD - had they been released as singles, Estradasphere would look markedly less avant-garde. ;P

The individual tracks are somewhat less experimental than the audaciously assorted way they are presented as a package; the upbeat folk song that serves as an opener is initially refreshing but simply poodles along the same sequence, gradually tiring in vibrancy until its close. Next we have a pseudo-techno-pop vignette seemingly crafted entirely from vocal samples - this song, as well as not being very good the first time and downright tiring on repeat plays, requires that you're in on the Estradasphere all-embracing genre joke. Basically the instrumental version of Weird Al.

"King Krab Battle" is a great piece of filmic orchestral (if medieval) marching score morphing into brassy funk-rock and although it dips somewhat around halfway in, it's the first piece on "Quadropus" that manages to hold this reviewer's attention. An album with tunes like this one throughout would be a much more satisfying listen than the somewhat frustrating pick'n'mix Estradasphere have assembled for us, as evidenced by the next two dire tracks, being a short, inexpertly-sung twelve-string ballad and a woefully overextended piece of ethnic jazz-rock which mostly serves as a bed for a solo that doesn't quite manage to take off.

And so it goes on; an album that offers up one homogenised genre after another yet doesn't allow you to settle thanks to the disjointedness of the whole affair. If you're looking for a CD of stand-alone songs from various genres, each somewhat simplified and made more approachable, then an album by a band such as Estradasphere or Secret Chiefs 3 would be an acceptable purchase - but aren't we already at saturation point with countless Zappa albums, Mr. Bungle's "California" and the more nuanced works of Miriodor? Distinctly second tier.

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 Palace Of Mirrors  by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.14 | 79 ratings

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Palace Of Mirrors
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by cookieacquired

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 Meow", while not only a great song, has one of the best names for a song ever. But I digress, Estradasphere manages to traverse these numerous genres, ranging from metal, to jazz, to , and even to ones that they had to make up, "Bulgarian Surf", "Romanian Gypsy-Metal", and "Spaghetti Eastern" (this was taken from their website).

If you haven't heard them before, the best way to describe them is they sound a lot, a lot like Secret Chiefs 3. This is probably because some of them play with Secret Chiefs 3, so that's understandable. They also sound a bit like Mr. Bungle, mainy Disco Volante, but Secret Chiefs 3 draws a better parallel because the music that sticks out the most on the album are the surf-rock, metal, jazz, and arabic (all of which are mainstays of the Chiefs). The supposed juxtaposition of these genres give the album an unearthly quality. But not too distant, I guess a parallel world quality would be more apropos. Eerie, beautiful, and melodic, why do I only give this 4 stars? Well the album doesn't have vocals, which is both a positive and a negative. The vocals might shatter the mood that the music provides, but the album just doesn't seem complete without them. The music also is lacking in several places, and the album could've been tightened up by shortening it.

Before I go, there is one thing of Estradasphere's that I was pleasantly surprised by (though it doesn't pertain to this specific album, it is an underlooked piece in Estradasphere's body of work). They did a very jazzy cover of the Super Mario Bros. 2 Theme on ocremix.org, a website dedicated to remixes of video game music. Their piece is called "SuperBuckJazz" and I recommend it, along with Palace of Mirrors.

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 Palace Of Mirrors  by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.14 | 79 ratings

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Palace Of Mirrors
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Drakk

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 barely begin to grasp any certain genre before it would send me cascading into another genre entirely. However, after some time, I fell in love with this band. The huge variety of opposing and odd genres meshing together nearly seamlessly just through me into fits of giggles and awe.

Their latest output, Palace of Mirrors is quite the sonic palette of genres and sounds, ranging from Death Metal, to Jazz, to undefinable Electronic chaos, to Japanese folk music and so on. It's sudden and wonderful changes from song to song, and even within a single song keep you on a rollercoaster of emotions and musical experiences. The musicianship is top notch, and nothing short of spectacular for this album. The grandouise nature of the album, and the whimsical feel to it is really something else. Each track is unique, and engaging to listen t;. Light hearted and fun this album really easy to listen to more than once. Chaos and incoherence never sounded so wonderful together, and fit the mood of this album perfectly.

While no lyrics are present in the album, something I grew accustomed to and pleased with in Buck Fever, the feeling and 'soul' of the album are very much present. The images feelings invoked are no less prevelant with this album than any other. Though they are missed by myself, I find myself liking this album as much as any other in Estradasphere's repetoire.

My only vice with this album, and in reality, it being just a matter of personal preferance, is the inherant lack of Saxaphone on this ablum. The wonderful style of Whooley (or Whoohoolicious) is sadly absent from muh of this album. His work in Buck Fever and It's Understood were truly wonderful, and added much to the band. Also, Dave Murray's unique style and creativity will sore be missed.

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 Quadropus by ESTRADASPHERE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.04 | 25 ratings

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Quadropus
Estradasphere RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by fungusucantkill

4 stars I am really pleased with this album. This was my first Estradaspere album on my list and i have to say i am happy with it. Although i have heard other songs by them before this album that were on Buck Fever that i really enjoyed, i liked the way they took this album. Soft, it had feeling and life. It's an all around good album. One suggestion for first time Estradasphere listeners, this one is not to be listened to first. Buck Fever and It's understood should be a better starting point. You need to grow into this one.

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Thanks to useful_idiot for the artist addition.

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