Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Battles - Atlas.

A little while ago I posted about a fantastic track I'd seen on MTV2 late at night and had promptly forgotten the name of.

I held little hope of ever seeing it again and had chalked it up to one of those things.

But last night, thanks to my crappy sleep patterns I saw it again.

It's by a band called Battles.
The single's called Atlas.
The album is out in May called Mirrored on Warp records. It's absolutely wonderful, and much to Louise's distaste, it's been playing ever since.

It's a wonderful, sprawling, heavy drum looped driving track with digitally distorted vocals over the top. The vocals are just treated as another instrument, no lyrics here. Very reminiscent of Colourbox for the repetitive beats and driving sound - particularly the Official Colourbox World Cup Theme.

From what I've gathered having a quick Google round the block, it seems Battles are part of what's called Math Rock. Obviously that's a stupid, label for the sake of a label thing, but as a description it's okay. It's all to do with a certain breed of musicians who steer away from traditional time signatures and use unusual ones or even vary the time signatures. Steve Reich would certainly be classed as such and there are definite Reich elements in the Battles.

Battles is made up of a healthy mix of musicians and influences. Luckily, from what I've heard so far, everything adds up to better than the individual parts. The band is: Ian Williams (guitar experimentation with Storm & Stress, Don Caballero), John Stanier (drums and incredible percussion for Helmet), David Konopka (Lynx) and avant-guard composer Tyondai Braxton (vocals, effects, guitars).

I've also downloaded an album track from the mirrored cd called Leyendecker. Like much of the press and blog reviews I've read about the band tonight it's obvious that Battles are a great band with a habit for changing their sound around at the drop of a hat. So where Atlas is a driving, drum based tune, Leyendecker is a more mellow affair, slow drums, slow bass, simmering synth effects. Leyendecker particularly gives you some idea of the shifting time signatures being used.
(Download it here as mp3. Atlas is also available at the site)

They're on tour in the UK in May. And it's bloody awful timing for a tour because I don't think I'm going to be able to make it to any of the shows. If only it were a week later it would be half term week and I could see it in Birmingham. But alas, no. My only option is to peg across to Leeds (an hours drive each way).

Battles website here.
Best description of the band I could think of comes from their myspace page:

beep, boop, boop, crash, beep, loop, fwount,
bang, beep, boop, loop, sing, sing, beep, boop,
thanks you've been a wonderful audience

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