Thursday 22 February 2018

Music: Gloss Drop by Battles ****


Responsible for one of the most accomplished avant-garde albums of recent years (2008's Mirrored), New York's Battles stride the post-rock world like colossi.

But following such a fawned-over album has proved tricky, not least when band leader Tyondai Braxton quit the group last year. Braxton's helium-tinged vocals had added a layer of intrigue to Battles' pulsating brand of math-rock.

The solution for the remaining trio has been to coax contributions from some highly intriguing guests, including Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino (Sweetie & Shag) and Chilian-born producer Matias Aguayo on the poppy -- dare I say commercial? -- Ice-cream.

But, it's the appearance of electronica visionary Gary Numan that really gives this album a shot in the arm. The veteran Englishman lends his trademark dispassionate vocals to the coruscating My Machines, a short, but utterly pulsating track that demonstrates what an exceptional drummer John Stanier is.

And, speaking of percussion, there's an appearance from Yamantaka Eye -- the founder of the Japanese drumming collective, Boredoms. Suffice to say, the resulting track, Sundome, is a percussive triumph, and a seven-minute wig-out to thrill lovers of left-field percussion.

At every turn, there's something to appreciate here. Battles' experimental tendencies are as finely honed as ever, even if they don't quite scale the heights of Mirrored's standout tracks, Atlas and Tonto.

Burn it: Sundome; My Machines; Ice-cream

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