Some bands need biographies written on them, some bands don’t, yet someone still foolishly insists on writing one. Brooklyn’s Battles fall squarely into the latter category. Nonetheless…
Rising from the ether of a pop-scarred 2004, the enigmatic EP C announced Battles arrival like a blinding succession of Morse Code strobes across an aphotic landscape. Even as a short-form debut it was clear that band members Ian Williams, John Stanier, Tyondai Braxton and Dave Konopka had established something utterly unique. Instead of the conventional band dynamic of individual players waiting for their turn to be showcased, the members of Battles are more analogous to a tangle of brain synapses all firing in time with each other.
Having served time in seminal acts Don Caballero, Helmet, Tomahawk, Lynx and The Mark of Cain amongst others, Battles draw from a sprawling range of styles and sounds and distill this erratic static into the tightest mindfuck jams to be committed to playable format. Closely following EP C, Tras/Fantasy served as another definitive dose of labyrinthine, juggernaut rhythms and equilibrium-shifting textures that would safely place the band outside the orbit of any contemporaries.
On this first pair of EPs, Stanier’s drumming is like pinpoint buckshot, Williams’ guitar is sharpened schizophrenia, Braxton’s sound manipulations are fragments focused and Konopka’s guitar is malleable granite?which is to say, all are nearly impossible to define yet none can be ignored. Late in 2004, Battles unleashed B EP and set their cryptic marks in stone. Centered by a set of extended musical movements, B EP was a fitting conclusion to the band’s inception-as-trilogy.
In 2005 Battles set off across the globe on tour with Prefuse 73 and his crack live collective, combining driving atonal grooves and bombastic improvised fury that landed them in Japan opening for The Mars Volta and establishing their reputation as one of the most exciting live acts to crisscross the globe. The sheer musical breadth of their first three EPs and the lasting impact of their live shows have left fans and skeptics alike in perplexed anticipation of their debut full-length.
This May will see the release of Mirrored, Battles first album proper and a significant measure of evolution from a band that has yet to cease moving. Still entirely intact are the unflinching experimentations and metallic angles of their young catalog, but a new melodic insight has manifested itself in the form of some of their most engaging tracks yet. “Tonto” opens with and off-kilter series of chimes and chugs which are welded to a forcibly shuffling drumbeat and a foreboding chant that gives way to a soaring midsection. First single “Atlas” is a verifiable anthem, unrelenting and gigantic, but never surrendering the skewed aesthetic of the band’s past. With snaking, entrancing harmonies and thundering percussive force, Battles are a distorted reflection of an entire musical diaspora view of innovation and tension reverberated as a flash, mirrored.
Live On Stage:
Battles play that complex derivative of punk and prog called Math Rock - and I'll warn you it's not for everyone. Here's a example of just what I mean...
I remember digging this video looked when I caught it on Subterranean awhile back, here's Atlas...
One more for ya...
For more on The Battles hit up their official website.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008