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Estradasphere - Quadropus CD (album) cover





3.30 | 39 ratings

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5 stars It's damn near impossible to follow up a great album, especially when it damn near breaks every single musical convention you can think of.

Yet I still think Estradasphere did themselves proud with "Quadropus".

Right away, the songs are more static with the genre changes. Sure the opener "Mekapses Yitonisa" showcases their typical eastern influences spiced up with disco and metal flavorings, but right away it's less spastic than say "Meteorite Showers" or "Millennium Child". Even so, the band still figures out different directions to go musically that they haven't tread before. "Dubway" is an a capella outing that features some nasty beatboxing skills and even some hints of Raga? A really cool song with very few equals out there.

"King Crab Battle" begins very dramatically, like something out of a movie before breaking out into some "Incredibles"-style action jazz (one of my favorite movie soundtracks ever BTW). Spice it up with some heavy distorted chords, as per tradition, and end with the same motif as the beginning, but better because death metal. "Speck" follows up with a softer, mysterious approach, with haunting vocals and spooky strings, a strangely serious track from a not very serious at all band.

"Hardball" is the monster on the album, beginning with a fierce falsetto, that classic detective "wakka-diga" guitar tone and back into the eastern dance motifs. It features extended jam sections, heavy distorted chords, mellow atmospheric passages and even a flamenco spot towards the finish. It's not as disjointed as previous Estradasphere songs (the transitions are much smoother and fewer and far between), but it also doesn't add anything new to their sound than we've previously heard before. Not saying that's a bad thing, but I believe that tends to be the biggest knock on this album following such a gamechanger like "Buck Fever".

"A Car Ride in Idealistic Ethiopia" sounds like something you'd hear in a Bond film (or Archer). Dramatic atmosphere, mysterious strings and sax, fitting music for a spy I think. Nothing super crazy but that's ok, because "Crystal Blue" is just a nod to 60's mod rock and surf rock, while "Jungle Warfare" is a death metal brawl and "Bodyslam" is basically Rage Against The Machine meets Beastie Boys meets WWE. It's basically a song you'd walk out to if you were a pro wrestler and you're just ready to kick ass everywhere. The closing track "At Least We Have Today" is a throwaway atmospheric ballad of sorts that's like 2 minutes long with a hidden track halfway through (even though it's basically part 2 of the same song with like two minutes of silence for some reason).

So it is as good as "Buck Fever"? Certainly not, it doesn't span the genre catalog as much and it's a bit more calm and restrained than its schizophrenic predecessors. But because of that, the songs feel even more like normal songs. Each song has its own identity. Sure, you can knock it for not being original, but what's the point. When you're a band that has set its standards so high like this, there's only so many genres, sounds and influences you can add to your repertoire. That's why I like the 60's homage "Crystal Blue", the mosh-pit inducing "Bodyslam" and the a capella "Dubway". It's a series of new and fresh sounds added to their typical menagerie of eastern dance rhythms with jazz and death metal chords.

Say what you want. It ain't no "Buck Fever", but it's still even more polished and focused. Each song has a stand alone identity that's memorable and, like any Estradasphere album, you'll never hear anything like this from any other artist anywhere (unless it's a John Whooley side project).

(side note: check out the Santa Cruz All Stars on the internet Archive, Whooley joins guys from STS9 and Disco Biscuits among others any played only 7 shows with completely unrehearsed improvised jams, they're awesome. They even had an actual DJ scratching away).

Wicket | 5/5 |


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