Battles - Gloss Drop

Album cover
Avant-garde, Math Rock
Warp Records
Battles
Gloss Drop
Battles - Gloss Drop Review rating:
4.5
User rating:
Average: 3 (2 votes)

It will be said, what is lost in pure skill of Battles’ debut compared to their highly-anticipated Gloss Drop is surges of rhythmic chaos. Chaos is defined as something that lacks order or predictability, and while that may be true in many instances on Gloss Drop , it doesn’t take in account the true flow the album picks up in its complete journey. The same technical characteristics within Mirrored are not necessarily lost, but almost feel like an afterthought. Gloss Drop ’s main element that was not anywhere on Mirrored is the vast amount of fickleness that seeps through and through; the instrumental aspect of the album is just as thorough and well done as their previous effort, but the sheer amount of disorder allows it to distinguish itself. It would be quite difficult to perceive Gloss Drop as a Math Rock album; instead just the tag of band in its comfort zone allowing true experimentation to takeover would suffice.

The group without a key member, Tyondai Braxton, who was their vocalist, played guitar and keyboard on Mirrored (recently left to pursue solo career interests), have not lost any of their style and musicianship. Gloss Drop ’s key strength lay in its expansive variety, where as Mirrored lacked a true schizophrenic nature, in part because of Braxton. It’s safe to say this upbeat album is something that would have never happened without his absence as even the band has acknowledged this fact. From start to finish, the precipice assumed on their latest would be wholly inaccurate since the departure of Braxton. Even in the beginning, the telling of a musical album that would seem to be much like Mirrored is taken off its stance and immediately given a different outlook. “Africastle” is precisely what Gloss Drop aims to do – create havoc, with composure – the sheer nature of the album acts in this way. It has an innocent sense of playfulness, never letting up and the synth plays a direct role in this facet.

What is most surprising is the replay value of the album. Their previous effort was very tight and straight-lined, nowhere near as heavily optimistic or even allowing an intense sense of freedom. It’s not fair to say that Mirrored was expressionless, but compared to Battles’ 2011 effort it definitely may sound that way. The creativity really moves the album and each guest spot on the various tracks never get tiring or sound uninterested, something of a common occurrence. When the album does take a consistent attitude, it is nowhere more evident when English artist Gary Numan brings in some distinguishable vocals with “My Machines”. The sudden affinity toward Mirrored-esque instrumentation isn’t a crutch; it actually allows the album to breathe. Too much chaos – no matter how lovely it sounds – can be distracting and the decision to have a concrete structure is well-done. And while it is a welcome addition to a post-Battles transformation, it indeed feels like a changing of the guard is in order.

There is a truly something to be said when a group can pick up the pieces after one of their members leaves, only later to create an off-the-wall album like Gloss Drop . Maybe the fact these creative minds have moved in as a collective unit allowed these various aspects within the album to strictly take form. Mirrored had a true purpose in its fierce, almost methodical instrumentation and this monster is nothing like that. Perhaps the album is vindictive toward its debut, a complete opposite in terms of sound and atmosphere. An even more alluring aspect of the album is the massive shift in sound by the band, where will they go next? For now, they easily mix quirky moments with circus-like compositions, yet those moments are fleeting, which is why Gloss Drop will be remembered – the wacky randomness it always provides. From the types of leaps this group easily makes in minutes throughout Gloss Drop that is never a bad thing.

1. Africastle
2. Ice Cream
3. Futura
4. Inchworm
5. Wall Street
6. My Machines
7. Domincan Fade
8. Sweetie & Thang
9. Toddler
10. Rolls Bayce
11. White Electric
12. Sundome

Battles is an American rock band that formed in New York City in 2002. The group is composed of drummer John Stanier (formerly of Tomahawk and Helmet), guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams (formerly of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress), guitarist Dave Konopka (formerly of Lynx), and, until August 2010, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Tyondai Braxton (son of Avantgarde Jazz musician Anthony Braxton).

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