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Battles - Mirrored CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

3.84 | 132 ratings

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The Runaway
5 stars Before I write this review, I must say, Battles' Mirrored is my favorite album, so for people who have not heard this and are not fans of musical taste I suggest you leave now. This review may come out as some sort of "fanboy review", but I will try to make it more regarding the album than my love to the album.

Anyways, back on track, Mirrored is Battles' first studio album (they also have EP C/B EP, a combination of two EPs, but it is not an album as most people think), and in most people's opinion, the best. This is also, sadly, their last album with lead singer, guitarist, vocalist, and musical genius, Tyondai Braxton, before leaving in August 2010.

Mirrored is one of those albums where you can't assign a genre to it, because whenever you do, a different genre comes up in your mind and you must state it. If I had to call it a name it would be "Progressive Math Post Groove Electro Dance Metal Rock Funk with Pop hintings", and that is not something you would like to see! So I like to call it an "eclectic masterpiece".

Everyone who gets the album must have heard of Atlas, the most famous track on this album. If you have not heard it here, you have heard it on PS3 game Little Big Planet, and if not there, then on an Honda advert, and so on. Its catchy glam rock-ish drum groove begins the track and is the signature of the song. Many loop overdubs played by musical masters Tyondai, Dave (Konopka), and Ian (Williams). After enough loops are played, Ty begins with a note played through his microphone which is then run through a PS-3 (no pun intended) Boss pitch shifter, which gives his voice a baby like attitude, which still, somehow does not affect the song's seriousness. The boys then go into an instrumental section, and then all stop playing, leaving Dave's bass loop still running. They jam, and they jam, until they reach an insane climax and go back into the vocals, all loops running, and take them out, one by one. This song is truly a musical epic and is one of the greatest songs I have ever heard. Its combination of poppy catchiness and structure, and progressive musical composition is something that is rarely found and should be enjoyed, on this album.

Another hit on this album is Tonto, the second single. Most people are calling it "Atlas 2" and an attempt to rip-off a song which they knew would be massive hit. It is true, that structurally they are pretty identical, intro, "verse", "chorus", breakdown, verse, but musically they are very different. The song begins with a guitar riff very not reminiscent of math rock, maybe even some early Led Zeppelin, and is then joined by drummer (god) John Stanier. Again, the band plays some riffs, some reminiscent of mid-eastern Balkan Rock such as Boom Pam, and some just electronic, which remind me of good old Battles. After a few minutes of intense riffing, they get to the heaviest, metallic part, which sounds a bit like Tera Melos meets Don Caballero, but still maintains a bluesy and groovy attitude. They blast it all full force with amazing drum fills and keyboard/guitar action from Tyondai and Ian. They top it off and then go into the amazing breakdown at 3:25 which sounds like Red Hot Chili Peppers meets Foals. The song goes into a few more techno riffs, and then back into the riff, which slows down and then ends the song.

The next song is Leyendecker, and man, this is song is weird. It starts off with a very hip- hoppy drum part, which makes you doubt if this is Battles, but then the bass and keyboards go in, and it starts sound a little more like Prefuse 73 than Jay-Z, if you know what I mean. After a few bars, Ty goes in with his vocals, again, with the Boss PS-3, they jam around with some reverb-ish keyboard parts and the vocal line, until the song ends on Ty's reverse vocal jam. Overall, this song is not very musically interesting, and follows the same basic 4-note bassline, but the ability to hum to this song is almost sad, because this is one of the catchiest songs on the album.

Next comes, Rainbow, 8 minute prog epic in 19/8ths!!! With the rest of the album you think, "Oh, this is definitely Battles", but this song takes you back to the 70's or 80's prog with massive keyboard riffs and guitar counterpoints all based around a very insane time signature. The song begins with a delay guitar riff which then is joined by keyboards and drums blasting full volume, before reaching some sort of climax with insane triplet breaks which I dare not count. Then the song evolves into some insane part with John banging away on the snare in ways you did not think were possible. After 4 rounds of that, a very childish, yet creepy, tune is played on the keys, again in 19/8. They alternate between these two parts for a few times before Ty comes in with about three parts of very reverbed vocals taking the song down low before again, climaxing. After the final climax, comes a beautiful guitar and vocals part, in which, finally, Ty sings with no vocal effects. The combination of all the reverb on only those two instruments make a very disturbing and beautiful musical eutopian envoirment to the listener.

Now comes the weaker part of the album, the two songs, Bad Trails and Prismism. Bad Trails is a drum-less track, played mainly by Dave on the bass and Ian on keyboards. Once in a while Ty sings a couple of vocal lines, but that's it, basically. Prismism is one-minute track, which sounds pretty much like a filler. It is a triplet based keyboard riff that just repeats for a minute before seguing into drum masterpiece,

Snare Hangar. Finally, John gets some focus! This song is all based on John's 8-bar drum part and how the band builds their insane lines and riffs around it. This is another poppy song, in some ways. I mean, it IS Battles but it's pretty short, written in a major scale, features some happy jumpy parts, and doesn't have any real complications to it. Pretty reminiscent of Gang Gang Dance, only with jumpy drum lines.

Now come the two unsung heroes of Mirrored, Tij, and Race: Out. Dave plays a note and then plays with it on his Echoplex, before transforming it into a loop that sounds like a Transformer moaning. Ty records his actual moaning onto it, and in no time, John comes in with the signature Battles drum part, and then BREAK, and the song goes into overdrive. Ian records a keyboard riff while Dave takes his guitar and Whammy and plays some neat guitar lines over it. Sudden change of genre, the song takes a metal twist, and John blasts out his 7-foot high crash in a burst of hits as Ty sings a catchy vocal line. The song breaks down for a bit as Ian introduces a new guitar/keyboard riff, and they rise up again, with this riff taking the lead, instead of the old one. As an everchanging ever-lively band, it takes them only a few seconds to go back into the old, main, keyboard riff, which we know and love. Again, it seems as if they return to the metal part, but they breakdown instead, and return to the second keyboard riff. After a few rounds, the song takes a whole new twist, with only Tyondai's moans and John's funky drum riff. The band plays some creepy yet satisfying lines before going into the song's final breakdown of clicks and clacks.

Race: Out is the album's final track. It begins with guitars playing a delayed, reverbed, reversed, line, which sounds like a whole orchestra! John and Dave start to play and they set the tempo higher and higher as the strings fade out until the strings are no more. Dave loops his part as he switches to guitar, and gives Ian the go. Ian plays a very short keyboard riff which we heard in Race: In before blasting into a three guitar riff as John plays his 8th note hi-hats. It takes him no longer than five seconds before blasting into a drum part which continues on until the end of the song. The guitar line is very simple and reminds me of 70's funk, somehow.

For the whole of this review, I have tried to list bands which sound like the songs, but since Battles are so unique, I can not give examples. This is an album that even the most praising reviews cannot do it justice, and you have to listen to it yourself to believe! 5 stars for the decade's masterpiece...

The Runaway | 5/5 |


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