Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Battles - Mirrored

Nerds making music; it can be a beautiful thing. In a high school setting it's usually in orchestra or marching band. But out here in the badlands of the real world, rock music stardom is typically reserved for the ├╝ber-cool. Too cool for school, per se. Thankfully, Battles (John Stanier, Ian Williams, Dave Konopka, Tyondai Braxton) have arrived to steal some of the thunder with their prog/math rock. Each of these guys have been members of other groups or currently have multiple musical endeavors. In addition, each is a skilled musician and is responsible for several instruments or samples. Good thing there are plenty of layers of sound to go around with keyboards, drums, guitars, bass, vocals, and synths eventually going all at once. For only having been together for less than 2 years, Battles have meshed extremely well to produce an awesome debut album out on Warp Records entitled Mirrored.

Mirrored is equal parts playful rock, angular guitars, driving drums, and synth loops all mixed with the complexity of the quadratic equation to create a surprisingly melodic concoction. Most tunes start off simply and spiral outward to a point where it seems like they're teetering on the brink of confusion and utter disaster, but Battles manages to steer clear of those pitfalls. While on previous EPs the band has been solely instrumental, Mirrored sees vocals (a lot of times distorted) and whistling added to the tapestry for melody and affect. The first single "Atlas" has been voted Single of the Week by NME in the UK and has a pretty awesome video to match. Another great tune is the very first track "Race:In" that catapults you head first into the album. The syncopated rim shots drive forward until a repeated guitar line comes in to hold place for the forthcoming whistling melody that appears front and center. The melodic whistling is eerily reminiscent of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs going off to work. The nerdiness of Battles' music seems organic, effortless, and entirely unique rather than over-thought, pretentious, or uninteresting. There is such a wild mix and variety of sounds coming together on this album that each listen brings to light new thoughts and responses. To appreciate this explosion of instruments and technology try and listen to how many layers there are on each song. Each is crafted so precisely, the mind boggles at how great they must be to see live.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Hi ho Hi ho it's off to work we go... shit that is now stuck in my head....