Posts Tagged ‘estradasphere’

God of Shamisen – Smoke Monster Attack

8th Nov 10 (Mon) Leave a comment

God of Shamisen, led by shamisen master Kevin Kmetz, is putting out their second album – Smoke Monster Attack.

Teaming up with producer Billy Anderson, God of Shamisen returns with Smoke Monster Attack, their second album. Featuring some new tunes along with some interesting video game cover songs, the band is back to its genre-bending ways. Featuring Kevin Kmetz on the Japanese shamisen, Karl Schnaitter on guitar, Mark Thornton on bass, and Lee Smith from the band Estradasphere on drums. The band goes all over the place, from an aggressive new arrangement of the traditional “Jongara Bushi,” to the Indian-inspired mellow breakdowns of “Last Shamisen Master Attack,” to a wild metal cover of the “Star Wars” theme. The album is only available digitally, and features guest musicians Rick Walker (percussion), Rich Doucette (sarangi) and Takemi Hirohara (shamisen on “Tiger Feint Attack”).

  1. Metal-Jongara Attack
  2. Dragon Quest Attack
  3. Last Shamisen Master Attack
  4. Tar Bomb Attack
  5. Sandcastle Attack
  6. Final Fantasy Attack 2010
  7. Tiger Feint Attack
  8. Star Wars Attack
  9. Dragon String Attack (Super Short Version)

Much of this material is actually from their sessions for EMI Japan, which never surfaced outside of Japan.  They’re also releasing it in lossless FLAC format on LobeFood (not available yet).

Release date: November 23, 2010

~Dan – np: Ikue MoriPainted Desert

There is no free mp3 download or flac torrent for this album on this blog (nor will there ever be).  If you like music, support the artistsBuy it!!


REVIEW: Fishtank Ensemble @ House Show (Eugene, OR – 3/5/10)

6th Mar 10 (Sat) 3 comments


Fishtank Ensemble hit the scene in 2005 with Super Raoul.  The first record hit my radar with members from bandmembers from bands I was already into: Kevin Kmetz (from God of Shamisen/Estradasphere/Secret Chiefs 3 on occasion), Doug & Tim Smolens (El Douje’s record & Estradasphere), and Adam Stacey (Estradasphere).  Only Doug “El Douje” Smolens remains from that first group of guys who got me into the band, but the other members definitely kept me around…

The band is Fabrice Martinez (pictured above –  violin), Ursula Knudson (pictured above – vocals, saw, violin, etc), El Douje (guitar) and Djordje Stijepovic (Bass).  They play a mix of Eastern European “gypsy” music mixed with a heavy dose of Django Reinhardt influenced French jazz (dominated by guitars & violins).  Think… Hot Club de Baltic States.  On their records thus far, they also add in some Japanese music (from former member Kevin Kmetz’s shamisen work).

This was my first time to one of their shows.  Last time they came through Eugene, I was up in Portland for another band, but my wife gave a rousing thumbs up (she ended up going to see Fishtank at Cozmic Pizza).

The band played about two hours, split up with a nice intermission / snack time in the middle.  The band was red hot, and the intimate living room setting made this concert very special.  I’ll admit, I’m not usually a fan of vocals as of late, especially in world music.  However, Ursula nails it.  Seeing her perform in concert 4 feet in front of me was quite stunning.  Besides the stunning dress (!!!), her vocals were utterly fantastic!  She did a lot of vocal acrobatics, which worked amazingly well with violin, bass and guitar acrobatics that the rest of the band was giving us as well.

They played a lot of material I recognized from their second album, Samurai over Serbia, as well as some new and/or traditional tunes.  Here’s what I scribbled down (fixed by bassist Djordje – – Thanks!)…


  • Espagnolette
  • Saraiman
  • Arabo Andaluz
  • After You’ve Gone
  • Fraima
  • Woman in Sin
  • Swing 2003
  • Hopa di Bida
  • Am Furat de la Haidouks (Romanian Sirba dance medley)
  • O’Dewel
  • Kolo Suite (Serbian/Transylvanian Medley)
  • Tchiki Tchiki
  • Djordje’s Rachenitza
  • Coucou
  • Opa Opa
  • Samurai Over Serbia
  • Encore: Ursula’s high school song
  • Ciocarlia

They’ve got a new record coming out soon, called Woman in Sin.  Keep an eye out for it on their webpage, MySpace, et cetera.  Thank you to Michael & Carolyn for putting on a great house show!  I look forward to the next Rolling & Tumble house show — Tuvan throat singers!!

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Bill FrisellRambler

all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Higher Resolution (4 pics)

Limited to 1200 pixels wide or tall (26 pics)

Secret Chiefs 3 – Traditionalists: Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini

27th Apr 09 (Mon) 9 comments

Well, so much for the long lost Book of SoulsTrey Spruance and Secret Chiefs 3 snuck one out under our noses over on the Web of Mimicry message board. The new SC3 album, Traditionalists: Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini, is being shipped near the 3rd week of May. 2009. (!!!)


Pre-Order: the CD / the LP

Sound sample:


1. Faith’s Broken Mirror
2. Sophia’s Theme
3. What’s Wrong with Cytherea?
4. Mourning In Ekstasis
5. He Hates Us
6. Psychism 1: Cytherea’s Possession
7. Love Spell
8. Agenda 21
9. Subcutaneous Solution
10. Abyss of Psychic Enchantments
11. Subdermal Sequence (Nano-Correction)
12. RFID Slaverider
13. Dionysian Dithyramb (Eros-seed of the Egregore)
14. Zombievision
15. Perfectly Reasonable
16. Psychism 2: Fear is the Great Teacher
17. Abolish Believers by Abolishing Belief
18. Funeral for What Might Have Been (Sophia’s Theme)
19. Codex Alimentarius
20. Putting Forth the Hand to Take
21. Psychism 3: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind
22. Hypnotopia (Obey your Passion)
23. Nano-correction / Human Migrations / Faith Realizes
24. Chapel by the Sea (a Heart That is Broken and Humbled…)
25. The Strength to Sever
26. Baby Hedone (Harvest of the Egregore)
27. Zombievision 2012
28. The Great Die Off (He Mocks Us All)
29. Cytherea’s Awakening / Martyrdom at Romiou Point / Return to the Foam
30. To Love God is Sweeter than Life (Sophia’s Theme)

Blurb from the webpage

From out of nowhere Secret Chiefs 3 (operating here as Traditionalists, one of the seven ‘satellite bands’ introduced on Secret Chiefs 3’s album Book of Horizons) presents an elaborate “colonna sonora paranoica” — a paranioac film soundtrack. The film is imagined, but the horror is real. This entire project, as you might expect from this band, is a spiralling allegory that extends itself well-beyond its starting-point cliché as a “soundtrack for a non-existent film.” But that’s always been one of those potentially good clichés, in theory anyway. Pursuant to that potential, this particular work remains singularly, decidedly faithful to its sworn genre, the Giallo Horror Film Soundtrack.

At this point, it’s fair to assume we can take the dizzying conceptual maelstrom that comes with anything SC3-related as a “given,” right?
Alright, so we won’t go into that here.

But a word on the strictly musical side of things is warranted. The first thing to note is that Giallo cinema music has the distinction of having been graced by nearly all the great masters of Italian film music in general: Bruna Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani, Ennio Morricone, Goblin, Pierro Piccioni etc. And though this area of “B cinema” certainly has its appreciators, one still-underplayed element is that when considering the music, Giallo’s harmonic language was developed by brilliant people who, by current musical and aesthetic standards, set the bar very high. For any of us wannabes to share in the magic of this lost artform, we have to bring a bit more more to the table than some vintage amps & keyboards and vague undeveloped musical ideas based only in hipster aesthetics. Because if you ignore the deeper intricacies of the music theory at work, the orchestration, the arrangement, etc., you’re really only asking to make an ass of yourself (which is likely anyway no matter what you do). But the usual thing is to sample stuff or simply borrow themes from the masters and to then repackage them in a new “updated” context. Well, in a climate like that we should emphasize that Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini is quite simply an album of original compositions. The process should be likened to when someone is learning another language and begins to have dreams in that language. It’s the same process in any style of music, really. So to state it plainly, these are original compositions that were dreamt into being in the harmonic language of the Giallo Horror Film Soundtrack. It’s that simple. The point is not to be strictly period-specific, or culturally-specific, but to be psychically specific — caring first and foremost about how to convey things that will affect the psychic state of the listener in the intended way. After all, the point of dreaming in this particular language, with all its sophistication, elegance and beauty, is to go that much more deeply into the territory of nightmare… and um, let’s just say SC3 feel it’s necessary to pursue this particular range of the human experience at this moment.

The album itself is a full orchestral score that fully capitalizes on SC3 stock of musical manpower (Trey Spruance, Ches Smith, Timb Harris, Shahzad Ismaily, William Winant, et al.) and adds to that a broad cast of A-list hired musicians (among them Laurie Goldstein and Hans Teuber). The material runs the gamut; dissonant violent strings receding to beautiful textures with flute and female vocals through echoplex; analog synthesizers, harpsichords and celestas over a tight ’70s-style rock band rhythm section; crazed psychedelic freakouts with major payoffs; church organs granting repose, until tape treatments and a chorus of possessed shrieking voices force the listener to reconsider his position on the existence of Evil… If you can imagine all that produced to the standard found on any other Secret Chiefs 3 release, you’ve pretty much got the idea here.

The album was mixed analog to 1/2 inch tape. LP comes in 180 gram vinyl. CD is a mock gatefold LP, with a printed sleeve. Pure win.

The album title, roughly translated, means “The Severed Right Hands of the Last Men.”

OMG.  For me at least… Caveat: Based on the sound sample, it doesn’t appear to be one of Trey’s more “accessible” SC3 releases; so I suppose maybe wait on Book of Souls if you’re not already a fan of SC3 or movie music.

~Dan – np: Circle of Dust Circle of Dust

Note: This blog does not have a torrent or free download for this album (never have, never will).  Support independent muasic and buy this Secret Chiefs 3 record from the band directly at Web of Mimicry.

REVIEW: Jason Schimmel’s Orange Tulip Conspiracy @ Samurai Duck (Eugene, OR – – 11/17/08)

18th Nov 08 (Tue) 1 comment

FYI… my PHOTOS of the SHOW are at the BOTTOM

Samurai Duck on a Monday night… ugh… but it was for a good cause.  It was to see Jason Schimmel’s Orange Tulip Conspiracy (hereafter “OTC”).  I’d seen Jason thrice prior (with Estradasphere once and with Secret Chiefs 3 twice).  I fought the late night start to the week, the sleepiness, the sticky bar, and deep fried pizza (shudder).  Egads, why did I let myself be sucked in by $3 fried pizza?  I mean, sweet muscular Jesus… why!?  It was wrong on too many levels…

Anyway, OTC went on around 10pm, or at least I thought.  They were just foolin’, as I think Jason was setting up his Mac to tape the show and needed some levels.  They went on for real around 10:20 and played until just about 11:30.  I’m bad with the song names on instrumental bands, but they played most of the music from their eponymous debut CD.  They also played a Django Reinhardt tune like no Django I’d previously heard (it was pretty fun, fast & furious).  Hot Club de France was usually fun & furious, but not so fast… it was fun to OTC stretch it out at the end, too…

(click for larger)

The band was made up of bandleader Jason Schimmel (on guitars & swanky hat), John Whooley (on saxes & keys, an original Estradasphere member), Dan Robbins (on basses), Zach Cline (on guitar) and Lee Smith (on drums).  John Whooley really ripped it up, and the live show was very much more sax-oriented than I remembered the CD being.  It makes me wish I’d seen the earlier incarnation of Estradasphere (even though the current incarnation is excellent).  Lee Smith also seemed more comfortable because he didn’t have to start his set in a ninja costume

The 70 minute set was full of rockin’ jazz-infused tunes.  Very swingy in spots, but Jason also pulled out a 7-string for a chunky low-end on a song.  If John Petrucci (from Dream Theater) has taught me anything, it’s that I love me some 7-string.  The night was full of what my wife might call a band in an “identity crisis,” but that’s exactly what I love about bands in which I’ve seen Jason play – – they’re full of energy & musical chops.  OTC aren’t afraid to just push the envelope.  They enjoy ripping it open like a birthday card from a rich Aunt. :)

The live show was pretty awesome, and the album is fantastic.  It’s quite frankly in the running for faves of the year.  It can (and should) be bought via Web of Mimicry/Lobefood (click the picture below):

The Appropriate Linkage:

Where they’re heading next on this 2008 West Coast Tour?

Nov 18 2008 – On the Y, Sacramento, California
Nov 19 2008 – Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz, California
Nov 20 2008 – The Ruby Room, San Diego, California
Nov 21 2008 – The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, California
Nov 22 2008 – Hotel Utah, San Francisco, California

~Dan – np: ZakaryaThe True Story Concerning Martin Behaim
 -and- ElleryYou Did Everything Right -EP-

all pictures (cc) 2008 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

Vladimir Bozar ‘n’ Ze Sheraf Orkestar

8th Nov 08 (Sat) 1 comment

new music alert

Vladimir Bozar ‘n’ Ze Sheraf Orkestar‘s Universal Sprache is one of those albums that is hard to define.  Vladimir Bozar started as an offshoot from a French Frank Zappa cover band, The Children of Invention.  Their last gig was Vladimir Bozar’s first gig.  The music on this debut CD is a great mix of the insanity that comes from artists like Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, and to some extent John Zorn.

Clearly not for the purveyor of “pop” music, this is a very imposingly hard to digest collection of great sounds that I wouldn’t necessarily call “songs.”  With that being said… I love it.  It jots and tittles across your mind, and right when you start getting into the groove… it slaps you upside the mouth, buzzes up your leg, claws through your pant leg and sits down like a puppy who wants to be petted, then zooms off for an espresso.

Metal, punk, classical music, jazz, movie sound, Tzigane music, electronic, and spoken word.  This Ritalin-side effect gang of misfits has toured in Europe with Trey Spruance’s Secret Chiefs 3, as well as the stripped down Estradasphere Trio.  Trey Spruance said of Vladimir Bozar ‘n’ Ze Sheraf Orkestar that “obviously, this music is composed of lunatics hopelessly.” :)

The album, Universal Sprache, was recorded in Estradasphere’s Seattle studio with Tim Smolens recording, Tim Smolens and Jason Schimmel* mixing, and Timb Harris contributing trumpet, TIm Smolens contributing bass & vocals, and Jason Schimmel contributing mandolin.

*– Speaking of Jason Schimmel, I’m stoked for his amazing Orange Tulip Conspiracy tour coming through Eugene, Oregon, next week… November 17th @ Samurai Duck.

Vladimir Bozar ‘n’ Ze Sheraf Orkestar are planning to tour Europe and (hopefully) the US in 2009.  In the meantime, you can hear clips of the album on MySpace and order it from iTunes, EMusic, Rhapsody, et cetera… or physical CDs via Estradasphere’s Lobefood mail order should be coming soon (not yet, though).

The band is:

  • Djé de Vence (Jérome Simond)-Clavier/Sequencer/Accordion
  • B’hz (cédric Benard)-Drum
  • Cyro (Cyril Torres)-Guitar/back vocal/kazoo
  • Mina (Jasmina Barra)-Bass/vocal
  • Pedral (Pierre Lacasa)-Lead vocal/mandolin

On the web:

~Dan – np: Frank ZappaOne Shot Deal

You down with OTC?

26th Aug 08 (Tue) 2 comments

Jason Schimmel, from Estradasphere (and the recent Secret Chiefs 3 live incarnation), has a lovely new album out now… Orange Tulip Conspiracy. It’s available directly from Web of Mimicry (SC3’s label), but oddly not yet from Lobefood (Estradasphere’s distro) or Amazon (a large women & rainforest wholesaler). I picked it up at the Portland SC3 gig, and I absolutely LOVE IT. Behind SC3’s Xaphan, it’s probably my #2 album of 2008 so far.

Well, apparently the OTC is going to tour. YAY! The tour is going to feature Jason Schimmel (guitar/ keys), John Whooley (sax, an original Estradasphere member), Dan Robbins (bass), Zach Cline (guitar/ keys) and Lee Smith (drums).

Here are the dates and cities (subject to change):

Saturday Nov 15- Seattle, WA @ Rendezvous
Sunday Nov 16- Portland, OR @ Dante’s
Monday Nov 17- Eugene, OR @ Samurai Duck :)
Tuesday Nov 18- Sacramento, CA @ On the Y
Wednesday Nov 19- Santa Cruz, CA @ Moe’s Alley
Friday Nov 21- Los Angeles, CA @ The Knitting Factory

Jason needs help with opening band slots and additional venues in or around the cities above. If you are in a band or know of any good venues, contact him through either the OTC or Estradasphere MySpace pages (above).

~Dan – np: Frank ZappaTrance-Fusion

ALBUM REVIEW: Xaphan, Book of Angels Vol. 9 ~ The Secret Chiefs 3 play Masada Book Two

17th May 08 (Sat) 7 comments

Got this album in the mail the other day… I’ve four times through it, and since I imagine it will hold up fairly well as far as albums go this year, it deserves the ol’ track-by-track analysis…

Xaphan, Book of Angels Volume 9
The Secret Chiefs 3 play Masada Book Two

Secret Chiefs 3 - Xaphan

Masada Book Two – Background: John Zorn had a fantastic jazz-klez quartet called Masada. It was John Zorn on alto sax, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass, and Joey Baron on drums (sometimes Kenny Wollesen of the Sex Mob filled in on drums). They recorded 10+ studio albums in the mid-1990s, and they played live consistently up until March 2007. They may play a one-off in the future, but their Lincoln Center shows last spring were their final bow, as it were. I saw it, yay! The initial 10 studio albums by Masada are hardish to find (Japanese import label DIW), but they have many live and previously unreleased stuff on John’s own Tzadik Records, like Sanhedrin (below):

Masada - Sanhedrin

Anyway, sometime in the early 2000s, John Zorn started several splinter Masada or Masada-esque groups (Electric Masada, Masada String Trio, Bar Kokhba Sextet). He also wrote upwards of 300 additional Masada tunes that were not to go into acoustic Masada repertoire, but rather go into the “Masada Book Two. ” Different artists get these tunes (in the form of melody sheets of about 16 bars of music), and they arrange and record their version of John Zorn’s Masada Book Two tunes. Favorites in the past have been Marc Ribot, Koby Israelite, Cracow Klezmer Band, Bar Kokhba Sextet, et cetera…

Xaphan Personnel: Trey Spruance: guitars, organs, percussion, synths, autoharp, piano, bass; Timb Harris: violin, trumpet; Jason Schimmel: guitar; Anonymous 13: voice, viola; Rich Doucette: sarangi; Jai Young Kim: B3 organ; Shahzad Ismaily: bass; Ches Smith: drums, congas; with special guests Adam Stacey: clavinet; Monica Schley: harp; and Tim Smolens: cello, upright bass. ie- people from the latest incarnations of Secret Chiefs 3, Estradasphere, Mr. Bungle, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Carla Kihlstedt’s 2 Foot Yard, yadda yadda…

Trey SpruanceTimb HarrisTrey Spruance
photo credits: Peter Gannushkin / Theremin Noise Club / Jae

The Xaphan Songs: (all written by John Zorn & arranged by Trey Spruance)

  1. Sheburiel ~ Nice surf/exotica about 30 seconds in, which transitions into a delightful string melody with surf guitar reminiscent of something from the Electric Masada catalog. Overall, this is quite a schizophrenic song, but nice textures… it’s a prelude for what’s to come in the rest of the record.
  2. Akramachamarei ~ Very much a spaghetti-western-meets-middle-east vibe on this track. I dig it. The title sounds like an interesting mixed drink (something along the lines of okra-infused vodka bloody mary with a sprig of mâche instead of celery). Oh, and if you don’t know what mâche is, well, it’s a delightfully nutty leaf in the lettuce family. So, yeah, spaghetti-western-meets-middle-eastern bloody mary concoctions all around!! And any band naming themselves Okra-infused Vodka, you owe me royalties. OK, back to the music…
  3. Shoel ~ Conga intro… keys, dub beats, and fuzz-guitar. Nice. Like at least 2-days of stubble on the guitars. Back into clean spag-west guitar… yeah, know, pretty soon, I’m running out of descriptions and adjectives beyond “cool,” “neato,” and “nice tom work, Ches.” I’m not a musician; so that’s the best you get, fools. This is one of my favorite tracks so far.
  4. Barakiel ~ Slowish, clean guitar entry with some slide, harp, and genteel vocals… moving into a bouncier spag-west guitar, but still with ethereal strings and piano.
  5. Bezriel ~ Oooo… Trey’s bringing the rock into it. Good interplay between the calm-before-the-storm viola and/or violin with the guitar chunk and vocal haunts. The last half of the track features some more strings and less of the chunk (oh, wait, I lied… it ends with the chunk). :) Another one of my favorite tracks.
  6. Kemuel ~ Bungle-y circus organ into swirling drum-guitar-vocal passage into a dirty string solo.
  7. Labbiel ~ Interesting time signature interplay between the guitars and drums.
  8. Asron ~ Aw geez, I just lost the game. I zoned out to the great music and forgot to write about it. Bad reviewer, bad reviewer. Anyway, back to the music. Nice violin and guitars to end it.
  9. Balberith ~ Starts with a great melodic bass line with some fuzz/scratch guitar. Ah, the trumpet finally kicks in. Nice stuff, Timb. This could fit on Zorn’s The Dreamers or Electric Masada nicely. That’s a compliment. :) Another one of my favs on this record.
  10. Omael ~ Add some xylophone, and I’d say the intro to this fits into a Zappa catalog. :) This is a faster-paced song… for the SC3 bellydancer contingent, don’t pick this. Your legs might fall off. This one has some great percussion and more trumpet. I’m getting lost in the sounds, but I’m digging it.
  11. Hamaya ~ Clean exotica guitar intro, organ, vocal chants (something about tostadas?). Oh, a seemingly (to me) “The Exile” or “Book T: Exodus” strings-n-guitars moment about 1 minute in… nice. Nice melty fade that sucks me back into… g-to-the-d, why is it 84 degrees in my house!? Sometimes I hate renting a house in Oregon that does have A/C. Anyway, a great end to a great album.

I recommend you take some listens on MySpace, Amazon, and iTunes (when they get it)… and support good music if you like what you hear. It’s currently available at Web of Mimicry, Downtown Music Gallery, and Amazon (to name a few). I don’t do the track-by-track treatment on just any record… this is a special record.

Any musical review faux pas above? Eh, I’m not a musician. My ears my have defied me brain, matey. For Secret Chiefs 3 fans, I suppose this more relates to a Ur / Ishraqiyun / Forms / Traditionalists musical offering? I dunno which one moreso than the others. Any thoughts from you WoM boardies?

Fav tracks: Shoel (#3), Bezriel (#5), Balberith (#9), and Hamaya (#11).

Recommended if you like: world music, middle eastern music, progressive music with a bellydance beat, ADHD prescriptions, Secret Chiefs 3, Estradasphere, Mr. Bungle, John Zorn, et al… it’s very much a Secret Chiefs 3 record, but probably one of their more “accessible” ones (as well as being an accessible John Zorn-penned album). User friendly, middle-eastern rock-romp through a mad alchemist’s mind (Trey is a brilliant musician, IMO). This is my favorite in John Zorn’s Masada Book Two series, and that’s saying a lot (I love all 10 of the series thus far).

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Susie IbarraDrum Sketches
Susie Ibarra

The Masada Book Two Series (to date):

Mark my words… best CD of 2008…

20th Feb 08 (Wed) Leave a comment

I’m not a bettin’ man, but I’ll bet you a hundred ducks that Secret Chiefs 3‘s Masada Book Two, Volume 9: Xaphan will be one of my favorite CDs of 2008 (likely Top 3 to be safe)… and it’s not even out yet.

Per a recent SC3 blog, it hits April 11th (from Tzadik-direct Downtown Music Gallery) or later in the month at other outlets (April 22nd or so from Amazon, etc), and a “Masada preview” is now posted on their MySpace page.

The Masada Book Two series is comprised of 300 or so songs that John Zorn wrote in the Masada vein, but not for the Masada quartet to play.  A different artist arranges and records a handful of these tunes to make them theirs… so far, the results have been great (Marc Ribot, Cracow Klezmer, Koby Israelite to name a few).  Xaphan (aka Volume 9 from Secret Chiefs 3) features arranger Trey Spruance, plus musicians from his latest SC3 tour, members from Estradasphere, and more…

Up next in the Masada Book Two series is Volume 10: Lucifer from Bar Kokhba which will likely also hit a top spot on my CDs for 2008.  It’s Bar Kokhba’s first studio release since The Circle Maker in 1998.

~Dan – np: Bill Moyer’s Journal podcast interview with Susan Jacoby

REVIEW: Estradasphere @ 2nd Story Nightclub (Bloomington, IN – – 10/6/06)

7th Oct 06 (Sat) 2 comments

Estradasphere‘s show last night at the 2nd Story Nightclub in Bloomington, IN was PHENOMENAL.

I arrived in Bloomington and about crap my pants with how crazy the traffic and people in town were… apparently it is a HUGE Lotus World Music Festival this whole weekend… oy… anyway, I grabbed grub at the excellent veggie restaurant ROOTS (mushroom-patty burger, fried tofu cubes with homemade sweet plum sauce, cinnamon-or-ginger-spiced sweet potato fries, and a fresh (I saw him make it) orange and carrot juice). I was too stuffed for dessert. If I ever bring the wife to Bloomington, we’re totally hitting up ROOTS again.

Anyway, I head to the venue by about 9:30pm. The band hasn’t showed up yet. They were supposed to be there at 5pm to set up. Ru’ Ro’. I lie down on the couch in the venue, and by 10pm the band finally shows up.

The 1st opener (Das Trio) starts around 10:20pm. They had some skills (at least the bassist), but they were very muddy as a group… and the songs and vocals were not memorable. I’ve seen worse bands, but I’ve seen better. I apologize if they do a google search for their name and come upon this review. They showed potential, but the songs just seemed generic.

After Das Trio’s set, I walked around town again to kill time. I got what might have been the best double shot of espresso ever. Seriously. It was so flavorful. I totally recommend the Crystal Parrot in Bloomington. Wow. Yummy.

The 2nd opener was playing by the time I got back to the venue. Floating Hand was a three-piece, growly, death-metal slow-grindcore type band. I thought they were fantastic. Unfortunately, since Estradasphere showed up sooo late, E-sphere was setting up behind Floating Hand… which caused some ill-will (to say the least) between the bands later on in the evening (FH heckling loadly during E-sphere’s first few songs — even after E-sphere publically apologized and thanked FH for their music).

Anyway, after Floating Hand, I walked around in the cool air again… came back by 1:10am and Estradasphere was finally getting ready to start. For those who don’t know Estradasphere, they’re a sibling band (shared members) to the Secret Chiefs 3, which is a sibling band to Mr. Bungle. Anyway, they’re middle eastern-influenced progressive, jazzy, gypsy-folk, classical-tinged, insanity-for-compositional structure metal band from the San Francisco Bay area. There are 6 members in this incarnation of the band… Timb Harris on violin, trumpet and good-looks; Kevin Kmetz (aka God of Shamisen) on guitar, keyboards, and most notably the Japanese banjo-like instrument, the shamisen; Jason Schimmel on guitars (electric, acoustic, flamenco), banjo, and keyboards (including melodica); Lee Smith on drums (fast, too); Adam Stacey on accordion, keyboards & synthesizer, rhodes and melodica; and Tim Smolens on contrabass (aka upright bass) and electric bass.

The near-hour long 1st set (again, starting at around 1:10am) was seemingly mostly covers and/or new compositions. They (Estradasphere) have three full-length albums (and 2 live albums with add’l material) prior to their most recent release this year, Palace of Mirrors; yet they didn’t play anything from those albums. Odd choice, but regardless, it was fantastic to see and hear. World music with some pep.

The 2nd set, after a (literal) 2-minute break, was allegedly Palace of Mirrors in its entirety. I say allegedly, because for those tracking time, it was probably close to 2:15am when the first set ended. I had a two+ hour drive ahead of me (didn’t want to stay in a hotel — too busy this weekend to get home later). I left after the halfway mark of the album… basically after the whirlwind, violin & shamisen metal-in-your-face attack(!) of the standout track from Palace of Mirrors, “Smuggled Mutation.” I’m bummed I had to bail, but I think the club (or the police) might have shut them down anyway if they passed “bar closin’ curfew.” Sweet glory… almost an hour and a half of wonderful live music (not including FH’s great opening set).

I strongly recommend Estradasphere to anyone who likes world music, and also likes (or tolerates) harder music… but, really, the harder edge is drastically out of their live show (and album) when compared to their earlier stuff (like on Its Understood or Buck Fever).


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