If someone had given me the new Battles album to listen to about 10 years ago, I would have shat myself with glee. For those who don’t know, Battles currently consists of an experimental rock nerd’s wet dream. First off, you have Ian Williams, formerly of Don Caballero and Storm and Stress. Don Cab was the kind of mathy give and take band that every guy practicing guitar in his bedroom in a bootlegged Fugazi t-shirt idolized. Then you have drummer John Stanier, formerly of thinking man’s, alternative tuning metal band Helmet. Rounding out the (now) trio is Dave Konopka, formerly of Lynx, a lesser known math-rock band, but good pedigree nonetheless.
There is someone missing, though. Former singer, guitarist, keyboardist and electronic and orchestral wiz Tyondai Braxton has left the band to re-pursue his solo projects. In his place, Battles have invited some notable vocalists like Comemé records chief Matias Aguayo, Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, Yamantaka Eye of ADD purveyors the Boredoms, and he of “Cars” notoriety, Gary Numan. Sounds amazing, right?
Well, not exactly. „Gloss Drop“ is still a very good album. It works as an excellent introduction to the more experimental side of modern alternative rock music. „Ice Cream“ and its accompanying video work as an infectious single. It has some standout moments that I would happily listen to repeatedly like the gogo stomp meets hardcore breakdown of „Dominican Fade“ or the very Don Cab looooong intro into RAWK of „Futura“.
Which leads us to whats missing… Braxton. His use of electronics and manipulation of his voice were an essential part of what made the previous Battles outing great. Not to mention something that lent itself to all kinds of amazingly good and weird remix pairings. Without him Battles are good, but not treading much new territory.
Battles „Gloss Drop“
released on Warp
Text > Pablo Roman-Alcala