steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
info opinion

Rumah Sakit

"Obscured By Clowns" CD

The Temporary Residence Ltd.

Genres: progressive, math rock, instrumental rock

The Temporary Residence Ltd.
PO Box 22910
Baltimore, MD

July 15  - 21 2002

It's no surprise that members of Rumah Sakit are also involved in bands like Sweep The Leg Johnny and Howard Hello - much like the critically-acclaimed Sweepers, Rumah Sakit bases their music on frenzied, instrumental guitar/bass/drums blastscapes. This album is a pure artifact of that, blowing past tired rock clichés with some of the most fucked-in-the-head instrumentals on this planet.

The band crosses through both ranges of their music on Obscured By Clowns - from slow, pondering moments to blasts of insane, angular chaos. And despite the speed and power involved, they always seem to know what they're doing; even at their most complex and fast-paced, they are in pure control. And it is for that reason that they completely blow their audience to pieces. They organize chaos; they control power, in a way that only Godspeed You Black Emperor! can. But where the Montreal four-piece takes their music completely seriously, Rumah Sakit has a little bit of fun with it. Take the song titles, for example; with names like "New Underwear Dance" and "No One Likes a Grumpy Cripple", even their most powerful pieces seem to have slight undertones of humour to them. Yet you wouldn't know that without reading the back of the album, because even though they may joke about it afterwards, the band play it like they mean it.

Take the title track, for example. It starts off with a gentle, yet swift, guitar rhythm. Then, more guitars are slowly added, playing complex, melodic structures. Soon the drums come in and take the song off its rockers. As the piece progresses, it gets increasingly angular and powerful - until it drops into a more ponderous state, and then stops. But, alas, it's only half done - and it restarts just as soon as it halted. The remainder of the piece spans through solemn lows and mind-blistering highs and then slowly calms off, leaving you completely astounded. And that's just one track. Phew.

From now on, Obscured By Clowns is going to be one of those albums I play while sitting alone in the dark. And by golly, I've never liked a band so much without knowing how their name is supposed to be pronounced.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 48 min 25 sec; nine tracks; distributed by the label; released 04/05/02]