Release DetailsLABEL The End
RELEASED ON 9/19/2006
Palace of Mirrors
posted on 9/2006 By:
Since Palace of Mirrors calls The End its home, was there any doubt it’d be good but out of left field? Similar to Wormfood and labelmates Unexpect, Estradasphere play a brand of avant-garde that mixes various genres/subgenres, incorporates a variety of instruments, and in effect leaves predictability by the wayside. Unlike the bands above, however, this six-piece Californian mob is instrumental and can only rarely be considered “heavy.”
In all honesty, it’d be difficult to dissect Estradasphere’s latest without picking apart each song – instruments, (sub)genres, and all. For instance, just to give you an idea of what goes into each composition, the following serves as a sample analysis:
1. “Title” – The introduction is 30 seconds long and features spacey, electronic effects. Nothing to see here. Keep it moving.
2. “Palace of Mirrors” – A string-filled beginning makes for a cinematic feel, but leads to a grand, carnival-esque vibe reminiscent of both Wormfood’s and Unexpect’s circus-like moments. A gong signals the end at approximately the 3:30 minute mark.
3. “A Corporate Merger” – Accordion, trumpet, and violin each arrive within mere seconds of one another. When violin assumes the lead, the song sounds akin to something from Chrono Cross – during times the accordion isn’t making you think of Italy. A Japanese shamisen then drops in to say hi. Distortion eventually drenches the output from 5:45 to 6:30. “A Corporate Merger” clocks in at a little over eight minutes total, which is too long.
4. “The Terrible Beautypower of Meow” – Strings set the stage once again before transitioning into what sounds exactly like Chocobo music from Final Fantasy VII, if not directly borrowed, which gets replaced by a synth tone that reminds me of Headphones (side-project of ex-Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan).
7. “Smuggled Mutation” – The soundtrack to a cartoon chase scene meets Unexpect.
Get my drift? Nevertheless, Estradasphere will occasionally recall styles that I don’t care to hear outside of their immediate and/or most relevant context (‘60s spy movie themes, Western symphonies, surf rock, lounge, etc.). While the musicianship is great and should warrant no complaining, the music itself isn’t a gimmick as much as it is a novelty – pure and simple. Palace of Mirrors is unique and interesting, but meanders too much and flops in the replay value category. Therefore, PoM functions mainly as a curiosity for individuals who are looking for something out of the ordinary, have the cash to spare, and aren’t afraid to take risks. With The End offering Agalloch’s Ashes Against the Grain, Giant Squid’s Metridium Fields, and Unexpect’s In a Flesh Aquarium, all their other 2006 releases just can’t compare.
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