– THE MILITARY COUP –
Whenever I hear these New York noiseniks I’m mentally transported back to 2007 when a very dear friend of mine with whom I hadn’t communicated for many years texted me (and a group of mutual friends) out of the blue saying, simply, “Listen to Battles”.
At the time, the four-piece – as they were – had just dropped the track Atlas and it says something that, despite my friendship group’s diverse musical tastes, ma’ mate Kev felt absolutely sure we’d all like it. And we did.
Now, returning as just the duo of Ian Williams (guitars and keyboards) and John Stanier (drums and percussion) Battles have announced a new album, entitled Juice B Crypts.
Titanium 2 Step is the typically cryptically-named first single from it.
While Battles have come a long way since ‘07, they certainly have the scars to prove it. The departures of composer/vocalist Tyondai Braxton and, earlier this year, bassist Dave Konopka would, completely understandably, have decimated other bands’ sounds.
And, possibly to guard against that, Juice B Crypts has an astounding array of supporting talent including Shabazz Palaces, Tune-Yards, Xenia Rubinos, Yes frontman Jon Anderson, and Taiwanese psych band 落差草原 WWWW (aka Prairie WWWW) on it.
On Titanium 2 Step, it’s Sal Principato (he of post-punk legends Liquid Liquid) who provides the guest gusto. His weird and wayward vocals, half David Byrne (Talking Heads), half-Kushal Gaya (Zun Zun Egui and Melt Yourself Down), provide interest.
However, the track would absolutely stand-up on its own, showing that Williams and Stanier still have what it takes to break it down like the best of them.
The piece is a breathless, bonkers mix of Afrobeat breakdowns, angular riffs and electronic glitches… all lovingly stitched together.
However, what is most prominent here (and what, frankly, was lost I think on more recent albums Gloss Drop and La Di Da Di) was what ma’ mate Kev saw in the band all the way back in 07, which is a fierce ambition and experimentation that, no matter your usual ‘type’ of music, you have to admire.
Juice B Crypts will be available on 18 October on WARP.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –