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Una breve historia de Richard Hooker caracteriza a los guerreros espartanos como personas con una vida centrada en “disciplina, abnegación y sencillez.” Por supuesto, en marcado contraste con sus rivales directos de Atenas y su riqueza cultural, donde se hacía hincapié en artes y aprendizaje, tanto como en habilidades de lucha.

Es muy tentador usar la descripción de Hooker para la banda, como el cuarteto post-punks da rienda sobre algunas de las tendencias arties de sus predecesores, At the Drive-In, para hacer música ciertamente más disciplinada y simplista que, por ejemplo, The Mars Volta (de los otros ex-ATDI). Dicho esto, Porcelain marca un gran paso hacia adelante desde el debut, con Jim Ward creciente en el rol de frontman, y la mayor confianza en su voz, en maneras que olvidan los días en que se limitaba a proporcionar coros de vez en cuando en At The Drive.

Aunque sería demasiado pensar que Porcelain marca un “ciclo de canciones”, un fuerte sentido de la pérdida impregna el álbum. Las principales líneas a lo largo de estas melodías dan como homenajes a una civilización perdida. Un lugar desterrado que un día reencontraron para ver si podía salir adelante.

“La Cerca”:

Estas colinas en nuestra ciudad / ocultan a los abatidos / No puedes cerrar los ojos nunca más.”

“End Moraine”

“El pasado es lo que aprendemos / Defiende tu gloria / revisionista de la historia.” (por supuesto suena mejor en la voz de Jim)

La brillantemente épica “From Now to Never”:

“Las cicatrices son por una razón / nos recuerdan lo que pasó / Mantente alejado de cualquier daño / Esté preparado / Estamos cansados ​​de la ficción / y estaciones ocupadas”

“Si hemos roto en pedazos el mapa, encontrarás el camino a casa / porque tú hogar es donde crees.”

Todo culmina cerca de las líneas finales del álbum, en la feroz y martial “Splinters”:

“La libertad ha perdido su claridad y su respiración es rápida / el escape es esencial para vivir otro día.”

En otras ocasiones, la pérdida parece mucho más personal, como en “Travel by Bloodline,” en la que Ward hace referencia a su primo Jeremy, fallecido en 2003.

La expresiva voz de Jim y su pluma muestran un toque sorprendentemente ágil, saltando de líneas devastadoramente simples pero efectivas, como en la alienada “I want to be welcomed, not just tolerated” de “La Cerca”. Y justo cuando crees que puede entrar en el modo completo de miserable bastardo, el puente de “Breaking the Broken” dice “No cambiaría lo que tengo / No por nada / No por nada”, mientras la banda toma volumen detrás de él, y la astucia de Tonny Hajjar rellena y refuerza las declaraciones de Ward.

A lo largo Porcelain, Sparta demuestra cuán ajustada puede sonar una banda cuando las tres cuartas partes de sus miembros han tocado juntos desde hace una década.



Una vuelta al catálogo de ATDI, sugiere fuertemente que incluso con la salida del cantante y del guitarrista, Sparta llevaba el intenso fuego de At Drive-In. (Por el contrario, está claro que la única vinculación clara de Mars Volta con ATDI es la voz de Cedric). Esto es música intensa, música seria para momentos serios, y la cancelación de Sparta como la “otra” banda, la mitad menos interesante sería un gran error.

Read the Original Here

Because it seemed as good a way as any to get warmed up for my review of this second album from Sparta, I did a quick bit of online research into the Greek city-state from which the band takes its name. A brief history by Richard Hooker characterized the warrior Spartans as a people who lived lives centered on “discipline, self-denial, and simplicity.” This stood, of course, in marked contrast to their main rivals in culturally rich Athens, where the populace emphasized the arts and learning as much as skill in battle.

It’s very tempting to project Hooker’s description onto Sparta the band, as the post-punk quartet reins in some of the artier tendencies of its predecessor group, At the Drive-In, to make music that is certainly more disciplined and simpler than, say, prog-influenced the Mars Volta (which features the other two ex-ATDI guys). That said, Porcelain marks a strong step forward from Sparta’s somewhat tentative debut full-length of two years ago, with singer/guitarist Jim Ward growing into the frontman’s role, his voice confidently ranging from a whisper to a sob to a scream in ways we couldn’t have anticipated back in the days when he was limited to providing the occasional co-lead vocal in ATDI.

While it would be over-thinking things a tad to label Porcelain a “song cycle,” a strong sense of loss permeates the album’s 14 tracks. Key lines woven throughout these tunes play like homages to a lost civilization, a place misplaced that may one day be found again if we can just make it through. From “La Cerca”: “These hills in our hometown/ Disguise the beaten down/ Can’t turn a blind eye anymore.” “End Moraine” brings “The past is what we learn/ It upholds your glory/ Revisionist history.” From the brilliant epic “From Now to Never”: “Scars are for a reason/ Remind us of what happened/ Stay away from harm/ Be ready/ We’re tired of fiction/ And occupied stations” and “If we have torn the map to pieces, you’ll find your way home/ ‘Cause home is where you believe.” It all climaxes in the album’s near-final lines, from the fiercely martial “Splinters”: “Freedom’s lost its clarity and breathing comes fast/ This escape is essential to live another day.”

Other times the loss seems far more personal, as in the lyrically direct “Travel by Bloodline,” on which Ward eulogizes a relative over his and Paul Hinojo’s thick, driving rhythm guitar parts, the song culminating with the singer repeatedly screaming “I miss you,” the final one drawn out more than 10 seconds, his voice absolutely shredded and spent in the end, the listener’s ears and heart similarly spent.

Elsewhere, Ward’s expressive voice and pen show a surprisingly deft touch, dropping devastatingly simple yet effective lines like the alienated “I want to be welcomed, not just tolerated” on “La Cerca.” And just when you think he may go into full-on miserable-bastard mode, the bridge of “Breaking the Broken” gives way to Ward’s repeated “I wouldn’t trade what I got/ Not for anything/ Not for anything” while the band turns the volume down behind him, drummer Tony Hajjar’s crafty fills offering reinforcement to Ward’s graceful declaration. “Lines in Sand” offers soft funk on the verses, one guitar doing a muted chicken scratch while the other wails and wahs, then exploding on the choruses as Ward painfully paints a picture of a world at constant war with itself.

Throughout Porcelain Sparta demonstrate just how tight a band can be when three-fourths of its members have played together for a decade (bassist Matt Miller being the newbie). The players work together in lockstep, from the quiet/loud dynamics of “While Oceana Sleeps” to the slight stutter of “Hiss the Villain” to the simply bludgeoning effect of “End Moraine.” And just when it seems that they’re permanently stuck in alt.punk.metal mode, Sparta bring out a quietly effective piano for the latter half of the sumptuous penultimate track, “From Now to Never.”

A listen back through At the Drive-In’s catalog strongly suggests that even with the departure of that band’s lead singer and lead guitarist for the Mars Volta, Sparta carries on ATDI’s intense flame. (Conversely, after listening to the Mars Volta for a spell, it’s clear that that band’s only clear linkage to ATDI is Cedric Dixler’s powerhouse voice.) This is intense, serious music for serious times, and writing off Sparta as the “other,” less interesting half of their previous group would be a major mistake.

o en Neumu

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