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BATTLES

Post Rock/Math rock • United States


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Battles picture
Battles biography
Formed in NYC, New York, USA in 2002

Battles is a quartet formed by ex-Don Caballero and Storm & Stress member Ian Williams, ex-Helmet and Tomahawk drummer John Stanier, ex-Lynx guitarist Dave Konopa and solo musician Tyondai Braxton (son of Anthony Braxton). All the members bring influences from their previous bands in to Battles' music as well as new sounds not previously heard in their previous bands. Battles released their first EPs in 2004 and where made into a compilation in 2006 by Warp Records. By this time Battles had a strong cult following and it grew larger when the year 2007 came in. In early 2007 Battles released their single "Atlas" which received positive remarks from press and fans alike. "Atlas" was also voted single of the week on NWE magazine. In May of 2007 Battles released their first full-length album "Mirrored" which reached #70 in the UK charts. The band are having their strongest following ever since their conception touring around the world and receiving positive reviews from many respectable magazines and websites.

Battles' music is hard to describe. Even though they're often labeled as a Math Rock band Battles combines many different styles into their sound to make their Math Rock more unique and accessible for a wider audience. Progressive Rock fans looking for innovation or a new sound will definitely enjoy Battles' music.


- Ruben Dario (Chamberry) -

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MirroredMirrored
Warp Records 2007
$11.61
$3.42 (used)
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BATTLES discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BATTLES top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 129 ratings
Mirrored
2007
3.69 | 76 ratings
Gloss Drop
2011
3.93 | 54 ratings
La Di Da Di
2015

BATTLES Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BATTLES Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BATTLES Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.60 | 7 ratings
EP C / B
2006
2.00 | 2 ratings
Dross Glop
2012

BATTLES Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
EP C
2004
3.05 | 3 ratings
B EP
2004
3.50 | 2 ratings
Tras
2004
4.00 | 2 ratings
Atlas
2007
3.50 | 2 ratings
Tonto+
2007

BATTLES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mirrored by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.82 | 129 ratings

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Mirrored
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars I really love the general sound present on this album, taking math rock, and then making it extremely playful and fun, in the process also making it an easy listen, despite the technicality present here. As with standard math rock, odd time signatures and changes are abundant, but the extremely happy, playful edge that they have, along with the mostly entertaining vocals make this an easy album to get into. It's clear that each member of the band knows what they're doing, as the interplay between them along with the various techniques that are applied to each song make this quite diverse and impressive. What further makes this a unique experience is the extra effects that are used quite tastefully, almost always sounding they have a real purpose to enhance the song, rather than being tacked on.

'Race : In' and 'Atlas' start off the album with an impressive one-two punch, 'Race : In' showing off various techniques to be used throughout, most notably the prominence of the keyboard in the sound of the band, along with the fast paced drumming and generally chaotic, yet extremely calculated approach that many songs here have. 'Atlas' is the song that essentially sums up the entire album, having an extremely groovy beat, with a wonderfully happy sound all around, with some high pitched, altered vocals further pushing this tone, making it seem like no wonder that this song was included as part of the 'Little Big Planet' soundtrack. 'Ddiamondd' serves as the best of the shorter tracks on the album, taking the quirky vocals to another level, with sounds of clapping and whistling that slowly morph into what sound like sirens only adding to the weirdness of this song. The longer songs on the album are really where I feel this album shines, being able to extend particular grooves and ideas to their logical conclusions, with 'Tonto' being a prime example of this. This song stands out to me for that constant underlying bassline that works perfectly with the great vocal melody and small jams. They then bring attention to this by having it not appear in the middle section, giving it a slightly emptier feel to it, that then is removed once it is reintroduced, and then gradually slows down, each note becoming more drawn out. The compositions on this album have many complexities such as this, making it a great album to look at in more detail as well as just for a fun listen. 'Rainbow' is another song fully demonstrating this, starting off with the melody from 'Ddiamondd' before gradually building up and becoming slightly abrasive at points, repeating themes but adding small elements to it with each occurrence of repetition. The way this crescendo then dies down and once again gradually picks up is quite impressive as well. The final song really worth talking about is 'Tij', which is the song that wears its complexity on its sleeve in many places, utilising looping techniques to create some truly wonderful motifs, along with further proving just how many tricks 'Battles' can apply, having these longer songs serve as showcases for said techniques.

My issues with the album are mostly small and inconsequential, but there is one that definitely adds up to have me consider this far from a perfect experience. My main issue is that the album is somewhat inconsistent, with some shorter tracks being quite lacklustre or just straight up bad, with 'Bad Trails' being pleasant, yet ultimately dull and repetitive, and 'Leyendecker' sounding straight up terrible, with the vocals being incredibly obnoxious, somewhat breaking the amazing flow that the album has for its majority.

I simply adore how fun this album is, each big song using various techniques with high skill, while always keeping an extremely playful tone to them. I love how this is simultaneously an extremely fun album to casually listen to, and one that is great to sit down and analyse. I highly recommend this to basically anyone who enjoys some lighter, fun music, after all, a track from it was in Little Big Planet, so I doubt it would scare too many people away.

Best Tracks: Atlas, Tonto, Tij, Race : In

Weakest Tracks: Leyendecker, Bad Trails

Verdict: It's math rock, but fun and accessible, and is an album that I recommend most people to listen to as long as they aren't looking for anything particularly intense, despite a couple of poor tracks.

 B EP by BATTLES album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
3.05 | 3 ratings

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B EP
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Battles' is a math rock/experimental band that was formed by Ian Williams from 'Don Caballero' who plays guitars and keyboards. There were 3 other members including drummer John Strainer who also played for 'Tomahawk' and 'Helmut'. This album is the 2nd in a series of 3 EPs that were released through a period of 3 months.

It starts off with 'SZ2', a nine minute track. It starts off with a pair of noodling guitars, and suddenly explodes into life at 2 minutes. The music is harsh and processed, so it's sometimes hard to tell what instrument is playing. The music is straightforward rhythm, but that is all that is straightforward about it, with strange harmonies and exciting counter melodies and textures. If you are familiar with 'Don Caballero' music, then just take that and add an element of hardness/loudness, and you'll have an idea. The meter/tempo changes throughout, and the playing is amazing, with the virtuosity that you would expect from a group of masters like this.

Next there are two short tracks just barely over 1 minute each. 'TRAS 3' is a strange sounding track that sound like a melodic washboard with guitars. 'IPT2' features a quickly picked guitar and other strange sounds with a basic rhythm. Other interesting sounds ensue. This could have been developed into something really interesting, but it's over too quickly. These two short tracks take previously released songs from past albums/EPs and reinvent them for pair of quickies.

'BTTLS' comes next and clocks in at over 12 minutes. This is made up of an ambient drone with processed percussive sounds that sound like they were sent through a synthesizer and chopped up and mixed around. After the heaviness and thickness of the first track, this is almost like a complete opposite, a study in minimalism. The drone at the beginning stops being constant, but gets manipulated itself by changing volumes, and it remains far in the background. Nothing really develops here, and it almost reminds one of trying to start a car that shows a lot of promise, but only spurts and sputters and won't turn over. Too bad this goes on for way too long.

The last track is 'Dance'. This one takes a repeating drum loop, then adds regular drums over it, and a funky organ. Plucked guitars add to the funkiness. The tempo seems quick with the percussion, but the 'melodic' parts are more sustained. The sound gets quite metallic after a while, and has a hypnotic, yet nice effect. This is a good track to end the EP.

If we were to rely on the excellence of the 1st and last tracks to rate the album, with the short tracks as filler, then this would have been an excellent EP. However, with the long 'BTTLS', the EP gets brought down quite extensively. Yes it's one track, but it makes up nearly half of the EP. Maybe if these 3 EPs were released as one album, things would have been better, and a full album may have been able to support the long 4th track, but it only bogs everything down on this EP. It's too bad the great material here has to be ruined by one track.

 La Di Da Di by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.93 | 54 ratings

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La Di Da Di
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Lewian

4 stars The Battles are perhaps the most original and fresh rock band I've heard in the last few years, and this extends easily to La Di Da Di. Characteristic for the band and particularly this album is the combination of electronic loops with very energetic but still precise drumming, which means that the whole thing is dominated by rhythm and a very physical affair. La Di Da Di has a bright summery feel and should put a smile on your face. It's all instrumental. It's also quite addictive. At the moment I get more and more into the state that I want to listen to this again and again. It's just the kind of music that in certain (rather light-hearted) phases of life can become a persistent feature. Yeah, let's listen to Battles once more. It wasn't exactly love at first sight, and I can still see certain flaws in this. There isn't much fascinating melody to follow here; much of the melodic material has a rather repetitive merry-go-round kind of style, and often presented in a percussive attitude that makes it rather part of the overall rhythmic stream than something to appreciate on its own, and it depends on the mood to what extent this is rather part of the fun or rather a defect. Many of the tracks follow a similar recipe (there are some different degrees of drum dominance and intensity, though), although in exchange, at times we get some unexpected twists within the same song, and the dynamic is strong throughout.

Overall it's not perfect and I could see some potential for broadening the approach of the band, but this doesn't take away from the freshness and fun.

 Mirrored by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.82 | 129 ratings

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Mirrored
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by MonsterMagnet

5 stars Innovative masterpiece! Mirrored has every typical elements of math rock : mainly instrumental, rythmical complexity, melodic poverty , mechanical aesthetic, original sounds, noise... however, it distinguished itself by an avant-garde aspect such as bands like Thinking Plague -but in another style-. Maybe it's hidden behind its catchy and joyful side but Battles is much more avant-garde than pop, even if the avant-garde aspect is finally more obvious in Thyondai Braxton solo works than in the next Battles' releases. "Race : In" is great and proves instantly the rythmical skill of the band (guitar ostinato passing from binary to ternary like an african groove) and their innovative potential with many weird ideas (atonal-bluesy riff, crossed patterns between guitar and keyboard, ascending voice at the end). The single "Atlas" is very fun and like a psychedelic blessing with full, metallic and soft guitar sounds giving a dreamy texture above a swinging ryhtm and ingenuous melodies. The crescendo in the middle working on rythmical layers is amazing. After that, it becomes angrier with the aggressive -but always joyful- and almost noise "Ddiamondd". "Tonto" is more catchy thanks to cool pentatonic riffs and, despite that rock spirit, we're still in an extravagant area with multiplied voice, strange dissonances, chinese stuff and composition effects (slowing ostinato changing the atmosphere into something deeply meditative). "Leyendecker" is an (insipid) R'n'B attempt. More exciting is the minimalist and naive "Rainbow" based on a major arpeggio in 19/8 repeated above all sections (except a very humorous one with a horn imitation) until an ethereal climax in which we hear the natural voice of Thyondai for the first time. In "Bad Trails", above a tribal rhythm on a birds singing background, the band shows a rich range of sounds (thirds, timpani, big reverb, saturated bass, noise effects and various keyboard sounds). After the African interlude "Prismism" and "Snare Hangar" sophisticated metric, "Tij" is another top of this album: weirdness, groovy polyrhythmic game which superimposes binary and ternary, and a subtly techno moment where the guitarist insists on a single note. If you haven't the Japanese version, the album ends with "Race: Out" which begins on a highly hypnotic part and continues on a more traditional groove (once is not custom) with a melody in crossed motifs. It certainly deserves five stars!
 Gloss Drop by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.69 | 76 ratings

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Gloss Drop
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Second record proper from the American art-techs and though Gloss Drop could never be called boring, it shows a band almost there but not quite yet, still reaching for what they do best and fumbling in the predawn hours of their musical journey for an original and focused sound. Granted, Gary Numan and several Japanese guests make fun appearances and five years later we got the incomparable La Di Da Di, so maybe it was worth it. But this second full-length disc will not sway many prog fans to the strange and exotic pleasures of Williams, Stanier and Konopka. That's for sure.

The continuous Balalaika plectrums of Ian Williams founds Dave Konopka's stringed effects on long and lumbering 'Africastle', more in the experimental vein and not a terribly engaging first cut. But the obscene huffing of 'Ice Cream' with its Ray Davies-like whining & whimpering lightens things up. Finally 'Futura' and its attractive muted guitar chords brings the flavor and builds nicely over key walls, neat noises, and unexpected tonal colors; Vaguely industrial, seamlessly transferring to sister track 'Inchworm' and 'Wall Street' picking up a little slack.

Light and winsome 'My Machines' has synthrocker Gary Numan doing some good things over a rather Prog drone, vaguely Bowie, definitely worthy, and Kazu Makino gives a sensuous performance on 'Sweetie & Shag'. Very cute 'Toddler' reflects its title (and shows these guys could do commercial Trade music with their eyes closed), combative 'Rolls Bayce' and downright military march of 'White Electric' sums up a promising but ultimately unrealized statement of contemporary Art Rock. A very good try, though, and their next would prove the threesome's vision and skill as important composers.

 La Di Da Di by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.93 | 54 ratings

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La Di Da Di
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars What a pleasure to hear something new and original. As with all new music, it isn't as if this trio is doing something truly unique; they simply compose music with the tools they know and understand. No, what sets these three apart is their attitude-- that's what makes Battles so interesting and what makes this third studio issue so very listenable, even exciting. The band tends to end up in the 'Indie' category, which is fine, as Battles are wholly independent. They are real artists.

The sound of Chiptune is ever present, the band generating waveforms marbled through hard rock with complete abandonment of any established approach, metastasizing a mix that will hit on a particular style without any allegiance to it. Only nominally "Postrock", these guys don't care and you gotta love that. If it were the late '70s, Stanier, Williams and Konopka would probably be a punk group. Cosmic dust morphs into blurpie trance for 'The Yabba' with vintage subspace nebulas and textured guitar calliopes, and 'Dot Net' is high-end squeak & Skweee showcasing the bangin' traps of John Stanier.

A little Surf opens 'FF Bada' reminding now & then of Tortoise, 'Cacio E Pepe' is industrial, and 'Non-Violence' rocks. Battles create paintings in sound and require some space to do so. Like good cheese or wine, they have to come to room temperature and begin to breathe in order for the flavors to bloom and be fully appreciated. 'Dot Com' is John Carpenter meets Blondie, 'Tricentennial' has Ian Williams' delicious vibrating-iron guitars, Glitch of 'Megatouch', and adorable 'Luu Le' make for one incredible musical statement.

A band that will surely go down as one of the best of the Post era though their legend may take a few more years to solidify, and in the wake of Hip hop's possession of popular music, Battles are one of the most fresh and bold of this fascinating and marginalized time in rock. A masterpiece of progressive rock music? You better believe it.

 La Di Da Di by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.93 | 54 ratings

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La Di Da Di
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars In which Battles channel Ratatat and Jaga Jazzist.

The general course of Battles's career has been a flashy march towards ever greater grooviness, so that for what "La Di Da Di" lacks in impact it makes up for in sheer joy. As it turns out, the willingness to let "Gloss Drop" be worked over by remixers as "Dross Glop" was a signal that they were ready to follow Jaga into the realm of electronic jam prog. If you dig that kind of fun, and don't mind it not having the experimental edge of Jaga or "Mirrored", then you're in for a treat. The groove picks up right from the start and never lets go. The math they codified on "Mirrored" is now more than ever electronically modified and adjoined, not for purposes of misplaced perfectionism but of finding new sounds and building jams. And never has the angular side of math sounded so right. This is nothing short of a ball, and I had no choice but to round up to five stars.

 Mirrored by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.82 | 129 ratings

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Mirrored
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by MJAben

2 stars Maybe I don't understand what's so innovative about this album, but to me it just feels stale. That's not to say that the music is bad... It's perfectly listenable. There's even the odd song or (more often) hook in a song that draws the listener in and manages to keep the attention span of most listeners. That being said though, this feels like one of those albums that just happens, it starts, it goes by, it finishes and its forgotten and the listener isn't rewarded for sticking through this album... The listener is left with nothing. When the album finished, I couldn't help but feel as though my time would have been better spent fluffing my pillows, painting my fence, researching otters or grooming a cat.

Perhaps I'm not being fair, you can thoroughly enjoy an album without it leaving a lasting impact on you and, at times, this album is thoroughly enjoyable. But in that statement lies my main problem with the album... It teases you. It offers a moment that's interesting, dare I say ingenious, but as soon as it begins the music reverts back into its safe sound, operating somewhere somewhere between Daft Punk, Radiohead and Don Caballero (without the technical prowess).

The album isn't a complete wash, the song 'Atlas' is well worth your while, the production is top notch, there are some interesting things going on at this record. But at the end of the day this is a mediocre math-rock record with varied songwriting and no real cohesive feeling to the overall album. I'd recommend the album to fans of math rock and/or indie rock but for your average prog listener you aren't going to miss out by passing this record over.

Occasionally interesting but consistently inconsistent.

2/5

 Gloss Drop by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.69 | 76 ratings

BUY
Gloss Drop
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by FunkyM

4 stars The sickly sweet cover of Battles' Gloss Drop hides a mostly instrumental album with clever song writing. The interplay between the players is very tight and the compositions managed to capture and hold my interest without much difficulty.

The album opens with the moody "Aficastle". This track serves as a great starter for the album with its eerie guitar and synth building up to a glorious full-frontal assault on the listener's senses.

Amongst the instrumental tracks, one of my favourites is "Futura" with it's hypnotizing rhythm. This track segues into "Inchworm" in which the percussion feels even more amped up.

We then move on to "Wall Street" which begins with a very quick succession of layered synths and beats. The pace has been picked up over the previous couple tracks and it feels like we're listening to a real heart-pumper.

Another highlight is the second-to-last track, "White Electric". At just over six minutes, I feel this one just about runs the full gamut of Battles' sound. It starts off with a slow build until it explodes into a smorgasbord of sound before eventually cooling off again.

There are a couple of tracks with guest vocalists. These include: "Ice Cream" featuring Matias Aguayo, "My Machines" featuring Gary Numan, "Sweetie & Shag" featuring Kazu Makino, and "Sundome" featuring Yamantaka Eye.

My favourite amongst these is probably "Ice Cream". It's a bouncy and fun song with a radio-friendly kind of sound. The vocals by Aguayo are nice and smooth. Ah, if only radio had better taste, eh?

The other vocal tracks aren't bad though and they do mix things up a bit over the course of the album.

Overall, the album probably has a stronger first half than second, but it's inventive enough that it never gets dull or boring. My brother introduced me to this album and I'm very happy he did. It's actually one of the freshest albums I've heard in some time and a solid recommend.

Highlights: "Africastle", "Ice Cream", "Futura", "Inchworm", "White Electric"

 Gloss Drop by BATTLES album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.69 | 76 ratings

BUY
Gloss Drop
Battles Post Rock/Math rock

Review by Horizons
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Balance of wit and power.

With an exceptional debut, Mirrored, Battles continues to provide quirk and harmony to their sound. Here you will find songs that feature guest vocalist: Matias Aguayo, Gary Numan, Kazu Makino, and Yamantaka Eye, songs that fix on a hardy groove, and unique instrumentals that progressively add more light-hearted layers to the mix. All the songs on Gloss Drop are wonderfully produced and are executed with the highest quality.

Starting with the tracks accompanied by vocals - Ice Cream, My Machines, Sweetie & Shag, and Sundome - the songs give a nice change in the album's overall vision, all having smooth compositions and wonderful blending due to Battles' nature to never go over-the-top in musicianship. The band seamlessly gels with all the singers and doesn't really feel like a jam session with some stranger pretending to lead the band. In my opinion all of these songs are real highlights of Gloss Drop because of diversity and the honest fun found with listening to them.

Ice Cream *grunts*: Beginning with an unparalleled intro, Ice Cream really grows a backbone with John Stanier's typical holy trinity (snare,hi-hat, bass) approach. He truly is the heart of this group, never coming intro the forefront with unnecessary chops but allowing his two buds, Dave Konopka (bass and effects) and Ian Williams (guitar and keys) to leave tasteful and massively catchy licks. The keyboards lay down a fairly hectic and addictive line, while he bass guitar adds its opinion every so often to give a real bounce to the song. The vocals, while lyrically are incomprehensible, add some flavor and fit right in with the fairly heavy song. *dum buh bum bum bum*

My Machines: Gary Numan joins Battles with a heavier tone and more intermittent keyboard passages to create a real powerful song. The guitars gets some real muscle here, especially the bass. Ian does a fantastic filling up the musical pores in the song with both dark lingering notes and his bright riffs. Gary Numan is fantastic here and is as powerful as a train (car). The outro of My Machines allows the band to let go and really solidify their power.

Sweetie & Shag: Here is the weakest vocal song on Gloss Drop. Though it isn't bad, it doesn't really bring anything to the table. The song gets inside you, vocally and musically, but isn't mathy in any of it's intentions. Kazu's voice is quite soft and contrasts the other singers on the album, my favorite aspect of the song.

Sundome: Creating an eclectic frame for an intro, Sundome mixes echoing upbeat keyboards, tortured guitars that immerse Yamantaka's chanting, all topped off with the fundamental sleigh bells. The atmosphere collapses into a flawless Battles jam. The music is more airy with all players in perfect equilibrium. Vocals provide a funky melody to it all. Sundome really has a natural progression that fluxes force and sleekness throughout the nearly eight minute song.

As a Math-Rock band, Battles specializes in feeling and their tight, groovy compositions. Their instrumentals feel compact, edgy, and complementary. Africastle, Futura, Wall Streeet, and White Electric are four other highlights from the album.

Africastle: After a bellowing guitar and a lurking keyboard are introduced to each other with a single tom, the song takes a turn for the better. While the keyboards are only a ripple in the wake of the rhythm section the passage remains tight. The intensity sturrs before the band takes a new angle for the last two minutes. Both syncopated drums and a distorted bass led into the whimsical electronic bow.

Futura: With a duo of loops guitars, brilliant drum placement, and some of my favorite keyboard waltzes, Battles creates a sturdy foundation for small variations later on in the song. Filled with characteristics that make-up the band's sound.

Wall Streeet: This song starts off and dominates with disorderly conduct from the band. Instead of using their trademark groove style, here you find a more free execution. Yields career-peaking musicianship for them. Wall Streeet also has a proggy bridge. Having trinkets play along with the bass guitar with an otherwise empty zone of music. Contrasts the entire mood and really feeds on the sporadic feeling on the song.

White Electric: Slowing incorporating every instrument, drum, and note, White Electric ushers in my favorite instrumental from Gloss Drop. The build-up makes you wait and gain suspense for what is coming while still satisfying you with the eccentric playing. The keyboards sewing together the others with waving playing, and the drums adding to the rising courage are fantastic. Eventually, the song becomes conversational, switching off in flaunting ability.

Gloss Drop is a wonderful album because of the joyous energy it has and unique spins it puts on the genre.

Thanks to chamberry for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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