13 Songs, 59 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After making a brilliant splash with their debut album, Mirrored, Battles return without their lead vocalist Tyondai Braxton, performing primarily instrumental tracks with a few guest vocalists for color. Veteran new-waver Gary Numan trots out for the eerie goth tune “My Machines.” Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino throws her Beck-like falsetto onto the kinetic dance track “Sweetie & Shag,” while Chilean techno producer Matias Aguayo turns the barroom electric with “Ice Cream,” where world beat is twisted with effects that give the track the feel of being heard through a fun house mirror. The instrumentals are chilly but effective. Helmet’s John Stanier, Don Caballero’s Ian Williams and Lynx’s David Konopka play a rendition of “math rock” that leads to uneasy listening bordering on disturbed minimalism. Best is “Wall Street,” a manic-paced cut that perfectly renders the vibe of Lower Manhattan. Second is “White Electric,” where a warm emotionalism takes over the tune, along with a sense of drama that proves Battles can bridge the gap without a new vocalist after all.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After making a brilliant splash with their debut album, Mirrored, Battles return without their lead vocalist Tyondai Braxton, performing primarily instrumental tracks with a few guest vocalists for color. Veteran new-waver Gary Numan trots out for the eerie goth tune “My Machines.” Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino throws her Beck-like falsetto onto the kinetic dance track “Sweetie & Shag,” while Chilean techno producer Matias Aguayo turns the barroom electric with “Ice Cream,” where world beat is twisted with effects that give the track the feel of being heard through a fun house mirror. The instrumentals are chilly but effective. Helmet’s John Stanier, Don Caballero’s Ian Williams and Lynx’s David Konopka play a rendition of “math rock” that leads to uneasy listening bordering on disturbed minimalism. Best is “Wall Street,” a manic-paced cut that perfectly renders the vibe of Lower Manhattan. Second is “White Electric,” where a warm emotionalism takes over the tune, along with a sense of drama that proves Battles can bridge the gap without a new vocalist after all.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5

97 Ratings

dare I say

Jay-Marks,

better than Mirrored.

Ok, this is what I think of the album.

Snowmain,

This album is good (as I've indicated by my rating). Why do I only say it's good, and not great? Well, after listening to Mirrored only one-hundered-million times, I've really become accustomed to the brilliance which is Battles. And the brilliance of Battles has a lot to do with Tyondai's involvement. Things like odd signature extravaganzas, energetic fluctuations which seem to defy gravity, and unique textural landscapes which are nearly unimaginable in their own right. Battles has a huge reputation. Gloss Drop follows that reputation with a great, polished set of material. It's punchy and pulsating. It's got loads of fascinating guitar work. It's a marvelous work in it's own right. But it's not the same Battles we're used too.

The songs on the album that involved Tyondai have a very distinctive "Tyondai" sort of feel. "Ice Cream" jumps out at you. "White Electric" leads you down a corrupted labyrinth into the forbidden forest. These songs, which I know Tyondai was involved in, still ring true to the feel of Mirrored. The pieces headed (or modified) by the trio seem to be a bit more straight-forward and square. They're almost like Battles impersonating Battles, but without quite the same level of emotional dynamic and rhythmic fluctuation.

I wrote this extensive review to explain how I felt about it, and it's simply just an opinion. Bottom line, great album in it's own right, but it may take a bit of getting used to if you're a hardcore old-Battles fan. It's just not quite on the level of the masterpiece which came before it.

About Battles

Crafting challenging yet engaging experimental rock that builds on its members' legacies, Battles features drummer John Stanier of Helmet and Tomahawk, guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress, and guitarist David Konopka of Lynx. Avant solo musician Tyondai Braxton joined the group for its early recordings, including the Tras and EP C EPs, which were both released in June 2004 on Cold Sweat and Monitor, respectively.

The B EP followed on Dim Mak in September 2004. The Atlas EP followed in early 2007, succeeded by the band's proper full-length debut, Mirrored, in May 2007. In 2010, Braxton announced he was leaving the band to pursue his own solo career while the rest of the group set to work as a trio on a new record. The following year, Battles released their second full-length album, Gloss Drop, which featured collaborations with Gary Numan, Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino, and Matias Aguayo. A remix album, Dross Glop, appeared in 2012. Battles began work on new music early in 2014, this time opting for a completely instrumental approach. The results were 2015's La Di Da Di, described by the band as a "mushrooming monolith of repetition." ~ David Serra

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