Review Summary: The New York math-rockers debut with an exciting, captivating EP that may require some patience, but inevitably provides a unique listening experience.
If you exclude the Tras EP
, one may look at this debut as an informal introduction into the entrancing, intricate world of bleeps and blips that comprise the band Battles. In what could be considered the preceding complement to the self titled (B) EP, this New York based hybrid presents a challenging but rewarding experience to any listener willing to forfeit their attention. Granted it is a reasonable length for an EP, but it is a price that pales in comparison to the experience given on each of the five tracks offered.
Chiming in modestly by the means of what ultimately becomes a layered keyboard loop, B + T
travels forward into and through a guitar riff, setting a definite rhythmic statement long before drums crash down to join in the fray. The song rides this momentum and further decorates this loop, at times accentuating the keys tastefully, other times shattering the sonic walls entirely to the sound of overdriven guitars and crashing cymbals.
Dissipating quickly into the three minute Uw
, the momentum is gone and the ride is suddenly over and left in an atmosphere of delayed fiddlings, subtle key motives, and a number of other ethereal effects. The transition is one that would seemingly defy gravity itself, allowing the listener the chance to embrace each sound, or absence of such in the same regard.
As to not let the listener stray to far, Hi/Lo
entices the listener back into a keyboard intro that reinstates a sense of rhythm before driving back into a bass and drum groove complete with concise, steady bleeps soaring over top. The guitar bleeds through as though taking the role of counter-melody as opposed to distracting the ear with a defined solo. The momentum has returned and does not venture off now, allowing the musicians to move through passages fluidly which, though accompanied by the keyboard loop, are constantly in motion and rarely stagnant.
The second and shorter transitionary track, Ipt-2
, unveils with what sounds of live drums being electronically reversed but nonetheless consistent in keeping the reclaimed drive of the EP alive. A single guitar motive pushes forward, challenging the affected drumming, and brings a sense of cohesion for what little time passes.
If the use of pedal effects was not obvious up until now, the closing track Tras 2
makes this quite apparent as it continues the rhythmic assault as though the music itself is alive. The conclusion is a complex one, complete with sturdy bass lines that do not overwhelm, ambient but precise keyboards, and effected and distorted guitar work that complements without demanding attention. The motion slows, never halts, and always swirls about the pulsating drums before disappearing into nothingness and allowing them to ride out another minute or so while the snare groove dissipates into a bass drum and cymbal outro.
For an initial (official) release, many will be immediately impressed and likely end up needing to listen to it again and again. Battles manage to capture expression without complicating it to the extent of creating imagery outside of one's own inner mind. The EP itself seems as though it is a quick guide on how to establish walls of sound, collapse them, and then slowly but consistently put the pieces back together. Perhaps its metaphorical, perhaps its mathematical, but regardless of what it means it will prove to be a very interesting listen for anyone open to something different.