The Word :: Battles :: Mirrored

To most, the words 'math rock' are an immediate turnoff. 'Math' was that ambiguously named and highly boring class you took in middle school, and to mix it with 'rock,' a genre that’s produced such songs as 'School’s Out,' is just too dichotomous for most people. However, even before Lou Reed decided to go a little nuts on us with Metal Machine Music, artists have been trying to perfectly blur the lines between man, machine and music. And with the release of Mirrored, Battles might have accomplished just that. A band comprised almost entirely of multi-instrumentalists, Battles’ set-up is a cacophony of guitars, computers, keyboards and miles of tangled Firewire cables. And then there’s John Stanier’s drum kit, which looks somewhat out of place among all the electronics, but therein lies the beauty of Battles. As otherworldly and machinist as the music sounds, it’s all played in real time. Stanier is actually pumping out those ludicrously complex rhythms in precision-perfect timing with the looped guitars and programmed bleeps and whistles.

Further blurring the lines is the addition of Tyondai Braxton’s vocals, something of a contention for old fans but an integral part of the band’s purpose. Electronically processed, shifted and looped, Braxton’s voice becomes something post-human — a stream of grunts, breaths and indiscernible, crooning babble, ameliorating the group’s avant-pop. I would hesitate to say that Battles is one of the best bands out there right now, but that’s only because I’m uncertain of whether it even could be considered a 'band' anymore. The players are merely extensions of their instruments and equipment, which in turn are being directed by the music itself. Never has something so electronic sounded so naturally organic. This is the future of music, but thanks to Battles, it’s happening right now.

4.8 of 5.0

Battles Atlas (Video Cut)

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