Saturday, December 27, 2008

Battles - Mirrored

Comprised of veteran musicians from such illustrious bands as Helmet, Lynx, and Don Caballero, Battles could be considered somewhat of a supergroup. But where as many supergroups get by on the strength of their name recognition alone, churning out tepid power rock; Battles' sound is unlike any band I can think of.

Adroitly mixing live instrumentation with a cornucopia of electronics, their music could be called post-rock (as much as I hate that term). But really the sound is more a kind of jammy mash of mechanized, proggy math rock, than say Tortoise.  Drummer John Stainer (formerly of Helmet) pounds out complex rhythms with metronomic precision and the result is infectiously danceable yet complex and interesting enough for head phones.

Mirrored, their first proper album, is released on Warp. It is also their first release that is not strictly instrumental. Placing Tyondai Braxtons voice in the mix gives an additional layer to the band's already impressive depth. The first song Race: In is written in an odd time signature and starts with a simple high hat and guitar, before finding it’s groove with whistling synths and strange, falsetto, wordless vocals. In fact Braxton's are generally sparse and heavily processed. They vary in prominence from song to song.

On Atlas, the first single, the overdub of Braxton's voice is pitched and stretched till he sounds more robotic munchkin than man. On Leyendecker, one of my personal, faves, it’s more reminiscent of the helium vox of early British rave music. DdiamondD which is in a time I still haven’t figured out how to count, has a big burly bass line, hand claps, drum rolls, and chirpy electronics.

As an album, this collection of songs is straight forward and yet still manages to be somewhat challenging. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for something new.

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