The Phantom Tollbooth

…And So It Begins
Artist:  Estis P@rc
Label:  Puddlegum Communications
Time:  11 Tracks/42:59 minutes

The title of the first album from Puddlegum records is called …And So It Begins,  but stylistically, it began five years ago with the release of Starflyer 59's first album.  Estis P@rc does not merely show Starflyer's influence, they come across as a bad impersonation of the band with a female vocalist.  It's all there:  the layered guitars, the space-age keyboards, and the ethereal vocals.  The guitar part of "Tokyo Has Blue Skies" could have been lifted from "Days of Lamech."

The only area in which Estis P@rc does not resemble Starflyer is the lyrics. While Jason Martin's lyrics are short, rather nonsensical poetic ramblings, Estis P@rc writes (for the most part) with regard to conventional song structure:

    Collect the endless sunsets
    Hold my breath and turn deep blue
    You make my life go the way it should
    And I want to see this through
    (From "Axtell Blues")

The problem with …And So It Begins is not so much that it is so derivative. It is, after all, the band's first album, and it's somewhat expected that they would wear their influences on their sleeve. The music is played well, but without heart.  Until Estis P@rc remedies this, they cannot be a good band.

Michial Farmer (8/19/99)