Battles -‘Gloss Drop’ (Warp)
It’s funny, the word ‘Prog’ normally rings alarm bells for me. So, how come when it’s banded about concerning Battles I take no offence but am actually inclined to agree. Especially when a band with such a cool pedigree has released an album that also has quite a ‘pop’ sensibility.
I first heard Battles five years ago with the release of their EP B/C EP compilation. The following year I walked into the record shop where I had previously worked to be played two 12″ singles, both of which ended up providing a substantial part of the soundtrack to my year. One was ‘Waters of Nazareth’ by Justice; the otehr was ‘Atlas’ by Battles. Both attendant albums were great, but Battles’ debut Mirrored had the edge. Since then, this sophomore album has had a difficult birthing process. Fourth member Tyondao Braxton left the band – yet this seems to have galvanised them into action.
For starters, they got guest vocalists in. First single ‘Ice Cream’ features vocals from one Matias Aguayo. Rather like with ‘Atlas,’ the feeling is that of ‘I have no idea what this is -but I know that I like it.Another contributor is Gary Numan, who contributes to ‘My Machines,’ which sounds like a perfect Numan song title. Who knows, maybe this album will provide more interest in his work?
It is an astonishingly easy album to love, this. Whether instrumental of featuring guest vocalists, this album is exciting from start to finish. Proof that experimental does not have to mean unlistenable, that music with a progressive bent can be pop, and once again, why the Warp label is synonymous with cutting edge music, even in its third decade.
Gloss Drop is out now on Warp.