Music Monday: Battles

Battles is an American Math Rock band that formed in New York City in 2002. The group is composed of drummer John Stanier (formerly of Tomahawk and Helmet), guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams (formerly of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress), guitarist Dave Konopka (formerly of Lynx), and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Tyondai Braxton (son of Avantgarde Jazz musician Anthony Braxton). All members bring their perfected math skills of past glory to Battles. Everyone but the drummer is a multi-instrumentalist. These guys are a must listen!

Pitchfork says: ” Battles may be the first band to really play with the way that 21st century software can extend and distend the sound of a rock band in real time; Mirrored moves in ways that Battles’ first two instrumental EPs–post-rock played with the locked-down seriousness of modern techno–only suggested. Early Battles shows could sound like a metal band performing Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, and Mirrored spurns solos, favoring a caffeinated maximalism where compositions are built out of 100 microscopic parts. The guitarist/keyboardists string together tracks out of riffs that crisscross with the careful preplanning of a subway system. Each instrument on opening track “Race In”– Stanier’s military-precise massed snares, the guitars tensely climbing up and down a few notes, what sound like synthetic tubular bells– is added with the deliberate patience of a Terry Riley composition. The song feels nervously repetitive, like it’s suffering from OCD. … What makes Mirrored’s merry melodies really stand out isn’t the crazy quilt structures or needlepoint precision of the playing. It’s the frenzied gibberish of Braxton’s pitch-shifted and electronically processed vocals– a kind of ecstatic robot that’s speaking in cartoon tongues. … It’s thrilling and disorienting because the virtuosity of both man and machine means that, unlike earlier rock/techno hybrids hampered by both technically unskilled players and crude technology, Battles sound is indivisible. Battles may not be the world’s first bionic rock group, but they’ve done more to extend the idea of a flesh-and-blood band enhanced by computer technology than anyone since the late, lamented Disco Inferno.”

Battles: website | | myspace | buy music