» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Dim Mak Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

January 20, 2005
Imagine the laboratory of a mad scientist. In your mind, everywhere you look are knick-knack inventions spinning and jittering. Quirky noises - pings of metal on metal and fizzing liquids - can be heard in the background in a symphony of labor and ingenuity. It is almost as if this space is a macrocosm for the scientist's mind. The laboratory is where the genius's harebrained ideas come to life in some sort of wild physicality of sights and sounds.

The collective members of Battles act as the current-day mad scientist of music. To explain what they do and where these individuals come from is only the beginning - Ian Williams (guitar, keyboards) has played in Don Caballero and Storm And Stress, John Stanier (drums, percussion) has played in Helmet and Tomahawk, David Konopka (guitar) has played in Lynx, and Tyondai Braxton (guitar, keyboards) is best known for his solo work. What truly represents the group, though, is the fusion of individual talents and ideas that comes out in their newest recording B EP on Dim Mak Records. The release is their third in recent three-month period, with Cold Sweat Records and Monitor Records putting out the other two albums. Members have said that this release method is meant to spread the band's exposure and not limit themselves to one label or region of the map.

'Harebrained''quirky''spinning''jittering.' These words are all a great start. Each one indicates movement and edge. In a roundabout manner, some of the terms even imply an insatiable attitude. Battles embodies all of these intense implications. But often it is a reposed dynamic that makes the greatest difference for B EP.

The start of the EP is initiated with a delicate layering of sounds in "SZ2." Williams' signature looping guitar weaves a pattern of notes and dances to an accelerating tempo alongside the ring of sleigh bells. This is Battles in cerebral creation mode. The writing process often makes the intense moments even greater by setting them up with a neutralization of soft sounds and experimentations.

Later during the track, a heavily distorted crunch of bass and drums pound on the musical thinktank hatch to be let free shortly before ramming it off of its hinges. Synthesizer riffs and several levels of constantly moving guitar notes fill the rest of the space in an open yet organized slow stomp groove. Soon enough, a silent break sets the table for a fury of upbeat bass/snare drum rhythms and increasingly intense melodies from the bass, keyboard and guitar.

Throughout its running, B EP features mutations of sounds that are only achieved by the invention of hungry and sound-reckless musicians. The four members fiddle with loop pedals and knobs to the point at which electric guitars sound like horns and pianos, and the keyboard takes on the timbre of electric bass. However the tinkerings are entirely appropriate for what each track demands. In the creative process, the instruments are given life and they exhale personality into all five compositions that span nearly 30 minutes. This short peek of Battles will have the listener either craving more, or immediately seeking out new musical inventors.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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