Review Summary: The only thing weirder than the song titles are the actual songs themselves. Even so, Battles produce an accessible instrumental and experimental rock EP that can change your taste.
Finding talented, fresh music can be a hard find as of late. Most bands draw from their influence’s sound and alter it their way, but they do not complete the transformation by creating something breathtaking. Thanks to word of mouth, my friend lent me an album that fits those characteristics by a band named Battles. Stemming members from bands such as Helmet (John Stanier on drums) and Don Caballero (Ian Williams on guitar and keyboard), the group, which also includes Dave Konopka and Tyondai Braxton, formed a nucleus of utter intelligence. The modestly named album, B EP, contains tracks that are ridiculously energetic and on the other hand a song that pushing the realm of ambient and experimental rock music. Changing volumes, rhythms, and tempos abruptly, unwarranted jolts of sound scattered throughout different songs make the experience quite exhilarating.
As if the awkward song titles are not enough, the sound behind the song is equally strange. Slowly, the album begins with, S Z 2, which churns and builds with layers of sound until it the pace quickens, and sleigh bells enter. The mood remains calm and collective with guitar riffs carrying along the melody until an unexpected distorted bass and snare combo thrash the calmness to shreds. The beat is infections as keyboard enters and an array of harmonies mold the basis of the song. The grand sound rolls gracefully and then a pause and the pace of the song completely changes. The sound of a plucked bass begins the change followed by a meticulously quick drumbeat and catchy guitar riffs speeds things along until the brilliantly put together dance party ends some three minutes later. S Z 2 is easily the cream of the crop for this EP; it is the longest song that also maintains a steady beat and a premise that is accessible to many.
Even so, Tras 3, I PT 2, and Dance are all excellent in their own regard, but they are frankly too short for their own good. Tras 3 is a drum-less track that has a beautiful flow. It is layered with a deep sound with strums of perfectly harmonized guitars. The same repetitious sound could be listened to for twenty minutes, let alone its short seventy-one second time span. In addition, I PT 2, while containing drums, has a beat and melody that carries listeners to a new plateau of, well, enjoyment. Throughout the bulk of the song, guitars carry the rest of the workload with a simple riff that ascends and descends along with an organ-like keyboard accompanying the melody. Both are indelibly simplistic with their approach. It is that minimal, but effective change within the song, that keeps that complexity, yet it is overlooked. On another note, the beat-box invoked Dance makes you want to dance, surprisingly. The worst kept secret of the album of the type of mood that accompanies the song, it does not fail to support its title. As the beat-box ends, the rest of the instruments take over. John Stanier’s drumming is at its usual pace while the organ-sounding keyboard and twanging guitars make a sound that can become a bit awkward and unnerving at times, but irresistibly fun for the majority of the time allotted.
Unfortunately, out of the five songs, their ‘self-titled’ song is the heartbreaker. Bttls (it is srsly the title) takes their experimenting to a not so endurable level. After five minutes during my first listen, I began to fast forward for something to burst, but the burst never came. Regardless, I have grown to be able to listen to the ambient spurts of noise and random shocks of sound. It is almost comparable to a Sunn O))) song while at the same time, not really at all. Random thwacks and percussion occasionally chime into the music with the same tone backing the song. Twelve minutes later, nothing is gained from the marathon of a song, simply what you can try to collect and put together from the scattered remnants of what was heard.
Regardless, the melodies and harmonies are beautiful, while in addition, the rhythmic drumming is equally spectacular for the bulk of the album. Battles produced an EP that is just an introduction of what is to come from their creative musical minds. Their foolery of experimental rock turns out to be a success for the heap of the album. B EP is a reminder that Battles are here, and that they are not stopping at their quest of altering the music of today. They are a fresh face and there is nothing better since bands seem to be frozen in time lately. Battles swayed my taste with their movements at experimental rock; it is only a matter of time for everyone else to get the memo.