Battles : Gloss Drop

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I first encountered Battles several years ago at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival, and I had no idea what I was getting into. Two minutes in, and I was  engrossed with the precise, machine-like post-rock that this instrumental trio doles out.

Made up of guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams (formerly of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress), guitarist David Konopka (formerly of Lynx), and drummer John Stanier (formerly of Helmet), the group’s full-length debut, Mirrored, was released to acclaim in 2007, and Battles have now outdone themselves with the sophomore release, Gloss Drop. The most impressive aspect of Battles is their penchant for tight, rhythmic instrumentation. The group skitters, pulses, and grooves relentlessly; keys and guitars are just as percussive as drums (“Afircastle”), and video game chic (“Futurea”) is just as comfortable as calypso (“Dominican Fade”). Battles write songs that are built from masses of sound; there’s nowhere to run, no open space in which to hide. Guest vocalists Gary Numan and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, among others, add depth to the trio’s technical workouts.

Given Battles’ pedigree, its commitment to air-tight sound – both onstage and in the studio – is no surprise. When the syncopation comes roaring to life, Gloss Drop leaves you breathless.

Gloss Drop is out now on Warp Records.

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