[CD – Little Plastic Tapes 07 – Autumn 2006]
Printed on c.d. in a run of 1,000
BAD ACID ZINE
Estel’s release, “The Bones of Something”, is the auditory equivalent of Danny Elfman conducting an avant-rock band scoring the life of a male stalker, and the music is the thoughts perpetuating his obsessive compulsion and actions.
The recording starts off with “Stacey”, a disturbing music-and-sound-effect-backed narration of a man leaving a telephone message to a woman he is apparently stalking, and the one-sided “conversation” shifts from creepy to an all-out suicidal/homicidal closing, a brilliant introduction into the realm of the Dublin-based quartet that is Estel.
Most of what is performed on this recording dwells upon repetition, but it is the unique moments of subtlety which keep things fresh and flowing throughout.
The drastic time-changes & tones of all instruments involved remind of the most appealing parts of the band Faith No More, yet still manifest a feeling of uniqueness and remain saturated in originality.
Tommy O’Sullivan’s guitar-playing occasionally gives a nod of homage to the major-key high-neck riffs of Modest Mouse, yet he blindsides the listener with a bleak low-end heavy riff, proving he can take you to somewhere bright and lovely and then the sonic tidal wave crashes to the ocean floor to bring you to the dark depths of newly-blackened territory.
Sarah Sheil’s keyboard parts are a pivotal point of Estel, in that she can play extremely morose segments of songs, yet also contribute parts reminiscent of childhood lullabies at odd intervals, providing a bizarre and almost carnival-like feeling to the songs.
Andrew Bushe’s drum parts are tight, tasteful, groovy at times, and instill a solid backbone to the chaotic and dynamic progressions which encompass “The Bones of Something”, and without Bushe, these songs would not be as visceral as their destined outcome.
Mike Watt, legendary bassist and member of the Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and recently with The Stooges, contributes a spoken-word piece to the 4th track, “Regardez Moi (I’m Up to My Neck in Shit.) (Again.)”, which is a building & beautiful piece with a haunting keyboard melody which spirals into a guitar, bass, and drum-heavy onslaught, kicking into half-time, punishing the listener whilst Watt retreats vocally, then the band descends tastefully and lightly back into a skeleton of the initial melody, inviting Watt to enter once again, finishing the song amazingly.
Track 8, “The Twisted Brain Wrong of a One Off Man Mental” is a solid ending piece to the album which shows Steven Anderson’s bass-groove abilities and the gift to perpetuate a track which some may consider slightly stale in melody if it weren’t for his spectacular fretwork. O’Sullivan’s guitar-work is heavy rhythm-oriented and maintains the droning melody with Anderson bouncing in and out of major and minor keys, clashing with Ministry-esque samples of distorted laughing, Sheil’s keyboard strong-hold, guitar-feedback and Bushe’s eased-back drum beat, which all seem to fall away one at a time, slowly seeing to the demise of an enthralling song.
In short, Estel’s “The Bones of Something” is an uncompromising testament to the truly strange, beautiful, creative, and ultimately, disturbing.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: estel have been hinting at some really great things over the course of three previous albums but i have to say this new album has taken a giant step for them, they have truly honed their instrumental synth led sounds into something altogether original and highly entertaining, they take in some elements of the modern post rock sounds, some eighties keyboard led sounds and even some strange mutated version of a b movie horror soundtrack, the end result is one of the finest irish records of the year so far in my humble opinion and its always such a pleasure when something comes along and leaves me at odds to even try and describe on paper, there are lots of repetitive and explosive guitar led pieces slowly mutating into catchy synth chord progressions, the legendary mike watt of minutemen fame makes a sublime spoken word appearence on track four and after that all i can do is highly recommend you at least have a listen to this record as you will be very pleasantly surprised, the album is released on their own label little plastic tapes
now spooky irish rock or something like that from estel. it’s a weird post rocky album with moments of panicking beauty that if listened to on your ipod would make your walk home the most exhilarating and terrifying ever. sounds like meanwhile back in communist russia says phil. inside is a picture of a disemboweled teddy!!! they say this is a horror movie sound track… i say a traveling circus in the rain with the threat of mob violence, pick pockets and being spun around on the waltzers by the tattooed grease monkey as he feels you up. exhilarating!! ..
estel have done it again!a new killer release on their own little plastic tapes label sees the 4 piece drift into a more lucid, dreamy nightmarish underworld of synth laden, drum reelin instrumentals.the art work is as screwed up as ever, brilliant but disturbed like the music within. mike watt makes an appearance also. pretty screwed up, psychedelia drenched punk rock going on here, with a touch of that swinging 1950’s old-time charm(?).get it you freak!