Sparta's EP Austere is very instrumental, artsy, and melodic. The songs are very emotional, but not "emo."
The Mars Volta is the more radio-friendly of the two ATDI spawns. ...very artistic and dynamic.
About one and a half years ago, At the Drive-In released the single "One-Armed Scissor" from their last album Relationship of Command. They were dubbed "the next big thing" and not too long after that they put their band on indefinite hiatus. This left their fans disappointed and baffled, since it seemed that all their years of relentless recording and touring were just beginning to really pay off.
The former members have since then formed the bands Sparta (which includes Jim Ward, Paul Hinojos, and Tony Hajjar) and the Mars Volta (which includes Omar and Cedric).
This review is sort of a double whammy where you get two reviews for the price of one: Tremulant by The Mars Volta and Austere by Sparta. The double review is because both bands only have an EP out and no full-length albums yet. The only comparison that will be made with At the Drive-In is to mention that neither spawned band sounds anything like their former incarnation. The members have moved on to bigger (maybe) and (definitely) better things.
The Mars Volta is the more radio-friendly of the two ATDI spawns. There are three songs, but the CD clocks in at about twenty minutes. The songs in Tremulant are taken far and are very artistic and dynamic. The songs are pushed as far as they can go without getting too abstract. One might even say that they are the Pink Floyd of our era with their long queer phrases.
Sometimes the songs go off on a tangent, for example in "Concertina," Cedrix starts singing in Spanish, while sounding as if he has started to sing another song just for the heck of it. In "Eunuch Provovateur," there are creepy inaudible mutterings, while echoing drums play in the background.
Sparta's EP Austere is very instrumental, artsy, and melodic. The songs are very emotional, but not "emo." Even though the songs are slightly softer than The Mars Volta's songs, the songs are very strong and full sounding. Their five songs are less "friendlier" to the general public than The Mars Volta songs, because Sparta does not sacrifice the progressive sound. There is a definite electronica undertone.
"Mye" is the first song on the EP, and is also the heaviest. "Echodyne Harmonic" stands out with it's almost techno-like instrumentals, and experimental sounds. "Cataract" stands out from the rest of the songs. The singing is very poetic in the soft parts, and then belted out with emotion at the louder parts.
Out of the two bands that were spawned by ATDI's death, The Mars Volta is slightly ahead. There are no real flaws on these EPs, and the music is a perfect demonstration of what can be done musically, while still remaining a viable artistic force. Both bands are raising the bar for anyone seriously endeavoring to make "cutting edge" rock music. Someone who has an appreciation for experimental and progressive music will enjoy these EP's, but the other people who don't, might not see or appreciate the real art to this music.