Unmistakably derived from the genre-bending loins of experimental rockers Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3, Estradasphere respectfully lives up to the ambitious musical aims of their wildly talented mentors. Tim Harris, violin and trumpet, Dave Murray, drums, Jason Schimmel, guitar and banjo, bassist Tim Smolens, and John Wooley, saxophone, met in the late '90s at the U.C.-Santa Cruz school of music, where they shared an interest in the tackiest aspects of pop culture and the most excessive forms of music.
Their first album, It's Understood, appeared with next to no commercial fanfare in the spring of 2000 as the first release on Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance's homespun label Mimicry Records. Their hectic mix of jazz, metal, video game themes, and bluegrass was eaten up by hardcore Mr. Bungle fans, but went largely unnoticed elsewhere. With instrumentation resembling Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Estradasphere doesn't always evoke immediate sonic comparisons to Mr. Bungle, but their manic, short-attention-span philosophy of composition ostensibly does. Drawing on influences all over the musical spectrum, often within the same song, Estradasphere amply demonstrates the breadth of their technical musical talent on a song-by-song basis. Although their first album doesn't demonstrate the concision of Mr. Bungle or Secret Chiefs 3, it stretches out as an impressive musical landscape for such a young set of musicians.
Accompanied onstage by a collection of Bohemian artists, ranging from fire-breathers to book-readers, Estradasphere exudes an overabundance of youthful energy and creativity, which, with a decent amount of publicity, could eventually grant them a solid underground following. ~ Kieran McCarthy