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SPARTA Austere (2002 US 4-track CD single featuring former members of At The Drive In made in the bands native El Paso Texas with its distinctive sound clearly influenced by ATDIs former musical efforts features the tracks Mye Cataract Vacant Skies and Echodyne Harmonic de-mix picture sleeve with deletion drill hole through the jewel case)
When At the Drive-In called it quits just before becoming massive, it seemed like they had blown a one-shot opportunity. Not so. While vocalist Cedric Bixler and guitarist Omar Rodriguez went off and formed the self-consciously weird Mars Volta, the Afro-free faction of ATDI--guitarist Jim Ward, bassist Paul Hinojos, and drummer Tony Hajjar--handily carried on under the new guise of Sparta. This quick-to-the-point EP, produced by Jerry Finn (Green Day, Blink 182), features the familiar sound of clipped rhythms, oblique vocals, and fuzzed-out guitars, but it also sounds insidiously fresh. Tracks like "Mye" and "Vacant Skies" update ATDI's taut fury with a most agreeable luster, while the pure force of the music remains respectfully undiminished. --Aidin Vaziri
Top Customer Reviews
I came to realize that Sparta wasn't really that great.
Not unlike The Beatles, (granted, At the Drive In weren't that great, but bear with me) ATDI was always split in two factions. There was the pop side, which basically became Sparta, then there was the experimental side, which became The Mars Volta.
As someone I know once put it, Sparta lack At the Drive In's "sexual bounce". You know how the opening chords of "Ursa Minor" or the bouncy rhythms of "Mannequin Republic" would send shivers up your spine? Well that's all gone. Imagine ATDI without a hint of experimentation or excitement and this is what you get.
Granted, these four songs, and Sparta's less than amazing full length aren't bad by any means. These guys aren't The Vines. But they're not exactly Wilco or ATDI by any means.
So what do I like about this record? A lot actually. Sparta aren't bad musicians, the lyrics are good, there's some interesting stuff going on.
The verdict? It's up to you. If you like the idea of a poppier ATDI, you'd like this. If you don't, you wouldn't. It's nice enough, but if I lost all my records in a fire I'm not sure if I'd repurchase this.
a while later, a friend told me about Sparta, the Mars Volta and Defacto, three new groups that were going to take on certain members of AtDI and would hopefully be able to facilitate the individual talent of the member(s) they had. i was told that Defacto and the Mars Volta were not incredible, but again how could they be when compared to AtDI?
Sparta brings a little more to the fold than the others, having Jim - a pivotal piece of AtDI, being the guitarist and backing vocalist (whithout his voice we wouldn't have such amazing songs as 'Initiation' and 'Give it a Name' in which the backing vocals play a large role), and the drummer from AtDI. i know it is wrong to expect a band to arise from the destruction of AtDI and inherit all the traits and reasons we loved the former band... but Sparta please on more than just that level, they are more than just a band who sound like At the Drive-In. 'Austere' shows that they are very much their own band, but have taken enough of the old sound with them to win over old AtDI fans... most of whom will notice the haunting similarity betweem the beginning of Sparta's 'cataract' and At the Drive-In's 'invalid litter dept.'
i am seeing Sparta play with Thursday and the Dismemberment Plan in a week, so I will get to see how the band transfers it's music to a live audience...
i recommend this ep very highly, it is well crafted, and it is heartening to hear Jim's guitar playing again, which made me love AtDI's material, especially the song 'winter month novelty' off the El Gran Orgo ep, and now makes me love his new creative drive.
The influence of the At the Drive-In rhythm section is easily seen, as all members besides Cedric and Omar are within Sparta. Sparta reeks of early At the Drive-In sounds. The leading track, "Mye", feels like an ATDI song from the Acrobatic Tenement era with Jim's influential guitar playing dotting the track. My personal favorite of the cd, Cataract, sounds vaguely reminscent of the ATDI track "invalid litter dept." and is a powerful, driving song.
Unlike ATDI, these songs take a more relaxed beat and don't feel rushed are pushed. It feels like the band is having more fun on these tracks, with songs like "Vacant Skies" conveying a real lazy day image and a more flowing melody line.
I highly recommend this CD to most of you indie rockers out there and for any fans of At the Drive-In. While Sparta is not ATDI, there is a lot of ATDI still present in it; not neccessary but certainly a helpful attribute. After seeing Sparta live, I can definitely guarantee that each of these songs hold their weight on the CD as they do in concert. This EP is simply stunning, the full-length will be even better. Grab this so you can get a taste of what's in store.
Most recent customer reviews
This EP gave everyone a taste of what was to come on 'Wiretap Scars,' but the versions of 'Mye' and 'Cataract' are a little bit rough. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003 by ovary z
I don't know what to say about this cd. I'm torn between emotions. I love it, but it was too damn short. I want it to keep going. Its weird. Oh well........ Read morePublished on July 2 2003 by Aaron Gonzalez
While Mars Volta went on to experiment in a different kind of rock sound, Sparta sticks with the sound that At the drive-in had nurtured for 6 or so years before they went... Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2002 by Umpeik
Austere is terrific; energetic, melodic, and honest. It's really straightforward and well put together, and the musicianship shows just like it did in ATDI ... Read morePublished on June 25 2002
Looks like the ATDI split was a good thing after all, because now we have two excellent bands. Sure Sparta might not be as experimental or orginal as Mars Volta (and I will flat... Read morePublished on May 27 2002 by Raldante McGillis
This album is great and the only reason I gave it 4 stars was that it only contained 4 songs. I know that it is only an EP, but after listening to it, I wanted more. Read morePublished on May 15 2002 by Mike Adams
Can't begin to say how much I love this ep..so much that I find myself listening to these 4 tracks more than most of my full length albums! Read morePublished on April 29 2002 by AllwayznStyle
This is a great ep. My favorite track is, of course, number 2. At The Drive In has contributed so much to the world of music it's incredible. Read morePublished on April 29 2002 by Extremeparanoya
I think I might recap what I agree with that has been said in reviews previous to mine:
These guys sound a little like ATDI (more like acrobatic tenemant then... Read more