Sweep The Leg Johnny/Rumah Sakit CD review [Sickroom]

Music Reviews
Sweep The Leg Johnny/Rumah Sakit CD review [Sickroom]
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Jan 21, 2003, 05:30

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SWEEP THE LEG JOHNNY/RUMAH SAKIT Live split 2xCD

Two of the nation's better math-punk technicians shared a September 2000 stage and this live double-CD is the result. Disc 1—to my ears, the stronger of the two—belongs to Sweep. And an almighty wallop it is. Although Sweep's studio albums balanced attacks of slicing shattered-glass noise with retreats into shimmering liquid-silver quietude, onstage Sweep usually just lowered the boom. This gig is no exception. Bassist John Brady and guitarist Chris Daly hurl dissonant chord-chunks at each other in a post-punk mud fight full of gravel and scree, while singer Steve Sostak hoses everyone down with wet pig-squeal saxophone. Drummer Scott Anna keeps everyone honest—his abrupt side-jumps force everyone to stop and pause before resuming the altercation even more furiously. Rumah Sakit takes over for Disc 2 and dissects everything down into miniature stopwatch gears that revolve and intersect with admirable, if not thrilling, precision. The meshing of sharp chords with shiny arpeggios, ovoid basslines with spiraling drums, and slick melodic runs with sudden noisy outbursts is impressive for both its accuracy and invention. Yet it doesn't hit with the emotional gravitas of Sweep's performance. Maybe it's just the lack of vocals. But there's something a bit too studious about it—the spirit-killing flaw of all math rock, really. Where Sweep puts away the calculators onstage and simply rips it up, Rumah Sakit sometimes spends a little too time figuring out vectors and angles. [Sickroom]

-J Graham

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