Release DetailsLABEL The End
RELEASED ON 10/16/2007
Palace Of Mirrors Live
posted on 10/2007 By:
After watching Palace of Mirrors Live, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the musical ability of California’s eclectic sextet known as Estradasphere. Though this DVD isn’t a comprehensive survey of the band’s career, it covers their latest opus and The End debut Palace of Mirrors in a manner that befits such an unpredictable, instrumental melting pot that is, at times, utterly cacophonic. Before I dig too deep, however, it seems natural to separately discuss each of the three parts into which PoML is divided.
The Entire Palace of Mirrors Live Movie (80 Min)
Similar to the album itself, this Santa Cruz performance is based on the short story “Horse Coffin” by Chip Yamada (video projection) and Tim Smolens (bass, contrabass), so aside from the usual close-ups of band members during leads and solos, the dual screens often display stills and videos related to the unfolding story a la Dream Theater’s Metropolis 2000: Scenes from New York DVD. While the players are on the ball, the light show is both a blessing and a curse. The concert is livelier and more artsy than it would’ve been had they not utilized those type of elements, but the use of the collage effect becomes irritating because it’s used too frequently, and the stage isn’t always as well-lit as I’d prefer it to be. Like Palace of Mirrors, though, Estradasphere incorporate banjo, violin, trumpet, accordion, clavinet, melodica, and shamisen into the mix to recreate those odd, shapeshifting tunes. In fact, captivating solos abound even if there are absolutely no crowd shots to corroborate their respective impacts.
Contents: “Palace of Mirrors,” “The Return,” “The Debutante,” “A Corporate Merger,” “The Terrible Beautypower of Meow,” “The Colossal Risk of Clusion,” “The Unfolding Pause on the Threshold,” “Smuggled Mutation,” “Those Who Know…,” “The Flower Garden of an Evil Man,” “Unicorns & Rainbows” (Foxycock), “Palace of Mirrors Reprise”
An Additional Set of Popular Interpretations (60 Min)
This portion of the DVD is bittersweet because on the one hand, the viewer gets to watch another full hour of Estradasphere, but on the other hand, the songs are mostly composer originals and likely unfamiliar to the average listener. Classical fiends and film buffs may recognize them yet. Regardless, this set entertains from a musician’s perspective, and is refreshing in the sense that it unravels in a more straightforward way than its counterpart. Also noteworthy is the fact that “Hunger Strike” from 2000’s It’s Understood appears, too.
Contents: “Juliet of the Spirits – Faccette Scintillante & Amore Pertutti” (Rota), “Vertigo – Scene D’ Amour” (Hermann), “Fantasy Impromptu” (Chopin), “Introduction Et Rondo Capriccioso” (Saint-Saëns), “Tempus Fugit” (Powell), “Mean Old World” (Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers), “American Tough” (Smolens & Atridge), “Hunger Strike”
And a Production Documentary (20 Min)
Last but not necessarily least is the brief look into the recording process of Palace of Mirrors, which spanned 2004 to 2006. It’s here that Estradasphere showcase studio antics, tour happenings, and making-of snippets that provide insight into the members and how they function as a unit. Interestingly, drummer Lee Smith relocated from Atlanta to Santa Cruz to join the band, while others such as Smolens, Harris, Schimmel, and Kmetz have worked with artists like Impaled, Secret Chiefs 3, and more.
The bottom line is that Palace of Mirrors Live is for the Estradasphere aficionado, which is probably obvious. It’s by no means an exhaustive documentary reiterating their history thus far, but after weighing the material, inlay, and packaging, the price is right in spite of its limited scope.
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