Estradasphere: Introduction and It's UnderstoodIntroduction
Estradasphere were an experimental band who formed in California in the late nineties, broke up in 2008, and were named after two beloved 70's heartthrobs: Eric Estrada and Horatio Sphere. They were frequently compared to Frank Zappa
and Mr. Bungle due to their eclectic mixing of musical genres (I promised myself to never use the phrase Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
in this blog, and I'm determined to st- Oh, crap). There was in fact a loose Mr. Bungle connection, in that most of their albums were released on Trey Spruance's Mimicry label, and members of the band would later work with Spruance in Secret Chiefs 3.
When you kick off your debut with a nearly 20 minute song, it'd better be a damn good one. Thankfully, "Hunger Strike" is a pretty impressive piece: It effectively introduces the jazz, metal, and "gypsy music" influences of the band, and while it does like several different songs played together as a medley, it never gets boring. The song is in fact the main highlight of the album, not to suggest the rest is a letdown. However, at times their ambition or even their sense of humor get in the way of making their musical ideas meld into anything coherent: "Spreading The Disease", a jokey attempt to blend new age relaxation tapes and sludge metal, for instance, just completely stops any momentum the album had going up to that point. Another issue is the production, which is generally too flat to really serve the often complex, busy music - it especially gets in the way of the metal segments, which are too murky-sounding to really have the impact they need. It's a good album, but I have the feeling they'd only get better from here, especially because I've actually heard the next album I'm going to cover here.
Hunger Strike, The Transformation