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Battles - Mirrored CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.81 | 126 ratings

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4 stars There are times where I felt as if I had found myself in a stagnation, yet I can only delve through a few hipster ventures before I regress back to that original state. It's a bit naive to simply shake off a band like Battles as a by-product of Warp Records' fetish of the overly robotic or abrasive. I was introduced to Battles by a friend who was a great fan of Aphex Twin, and Squarepusher (who, I admit, I have a fascination of) and I did not fully expect the sonic power behind the band.

I fully imagined Battles to sound like a cold, soulless venture into icy math-rock; I was partially right, as much as the songs have a layered, mathematical sound, there is an ever-present sense of humour and expanse. "Race: In" is the perfect opener, and it's a nice foreshadowing of the density the music develops later on, and "Atlas" is a great piece, marred only by the gimmick of the pedaled voice Braxton included; however, it doesn't detract badly, as I had heard others complain about. "Ddiamondd" is a bizarre collection of stuttering lines and heavy bass, which is indiscernible from a treated bass. What is appealing of Battles is their usage of interesting timbre which they develop quite efficiently, especially on "Tonto" which is a very progressive song with a hearkening to Discipline by King Crimson, with the oscillating guitars and keyboards that fit so well with eachother. The one track that threw me off was "Leydendecker" which was a deadpan impression of the overdramatic gated-drum effect and irritating buzz-saw synthesizers present in dance music, which I've never been fond of at all.

Building off "Rainbows" the rest of the album precipitates into unique, but somewhat familiar territory with the very mechanical, but fluid compositions. The final two songs, "Tij" and "Race: Out" are the essential part of the album that ends the album on a very high note. "Tij" begins with a looping effect that almost feels like being thrown back and forth, and Braxton's stuttering vocals add to the bizarre effect of the song, and the rest of the buildup is handled powerfully and effectively by John Stanier-- who, while citing Bill Bruford, known for his subdued complexity, and Carl Palmer, the bombastic showman, as his influences, somehow finds a middle ground of simplistic, but incredibly precise drumming that radiates throughout the album, here he really shines. "Race: Out" is the piece that re-states the original theme of "Race: In" that I have always loved. I don't know if it's cliched to do a re-capitulation of an album on the last song, but it's where the band show off their impressive ability to stitch together a memorable album, even when individual members play no more important parts then their bandmates. Altogether, the album is very much worth listening to, for anyone that desires to hear something truly unique, even those of you who are overly dependant on the symphonic, and are afraid of venturing into the colder, more unfamiliar sonic territory.

Aspic | 4/5 |


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