I first encountered Battles several years ago at Seattleâ€™s Bumbershoot Festival, and I had no idea what I was getting into. Two minutes in, and I wasÂ 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 groupâ€™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 (â€œAfircastleâ€), and video game chic (â€œFutureaâ€) is just as comfortable as calypso (â€œDominican Fadeâ€). Battles write songs that are built from masses of sound; thereâ€™s nowhere to run, no open space in which to hide. Guest vocalists Gary Numan and Blonde Redheadâ€™s Kazu Makino, among others, add depth to the trioâ€™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.