Release Date: Apr 17, 2012
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock, Math Rock
Watching Battles play on a stage over a lake in France at two in the morning last summer, you could see that they had transformed into a full-blown party band. You could see it in the way Ian Williams was moving in between two keyboards, his porn star moustache twitching, in how Dave Konopka playing with hunched intensity. And then there was John Stanier, destroying the drums in a way that said, "I could definitely kill a man with these hands." Everyone knows by now that Tyondai Braxton left on bad terms in the middle of making what became Battles' second album, Gloss Drop, and that the remaining members were forced to redefine what the group meant for themselves and for their audience.
BattlesDross Glop[Warp; 2012]By Nicholas Preciado; April 27, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGWhen Tyondai Braxton left Battles two years ago, the remaining trio banded together with Gary Numan, Kazu Makino, Matias Aguayo and Yamantaka Eye to release last year’s Gloss Drop. The album got mixed reviews, but received much good press in spite of the naysayers. And for good reason.
Envy not the artists assembled on Dross Glop, the CD compilation of experimental kingpins Battles' four LP remix series, for the task they were given was challenging in sound and sensitive in nature, carrying a lot more weight than the typical remix project. Battles' full-length debut, 2007's Mirrored, was an album rich in repetition, of patterns and sections that could easily be manipulated, bent, and twisted. It featured tracks that were simply begging for remixes ("Leyendecker," especially), which were then delivered on the same year's Tonto+ EP.
Gathering Battles' remix series into an album, Dross Glop's aesthetic remains true to Gloss Drop, even if the results sound worlds away from it. Like the band's second album, these tracks continue the trend of working only with the most cutting-edge, if somewhat unlikely, artists; this time the roster includes lauded dance and hip-hop producers as well as rock experimentalists, reflecting just how eclectic -- and malleable -- Battles' music is. Indeed, Gloss Drop was already so fragmented that it begs for further splintering, and Dross Glop branches out like a piece of cracked glass under pressure.
Ah! The humble (and occasionally not so humble) remix. In this case, a bunch of 12. The chance for a producer/DJ/bass player’s brother-in-law to take theingredients of a track and fuck it all up. Or bring someone untold chart success and a shit load of money. But far more commonly, just fuck it ….
After impressing many with their 2007 debut, Mirrored, Brooklyn math rock experimentalists Battles were dealt a potentially mortal blow when keyboardist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton left while they were making a second album. However, they regrouped and reworked, creating the follow-up, Gloss Drop, with guest vocalists ranging from Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino to Gary Numan. The same spirit of adventure has presumably inspired them to submit the album to the remixers' whim already.
Taking a record rife with compelling ideas as its focus, a remix redux of Battles' 2011 album Gloss Drop is an intriguing prospect, though creative license sometimes translates here as unbridled indulgence..
Dross Glop is a distinctive album, though for reasons likely not intended. It’s not that it’s great or horrible, it just manages to take Battles’ exceptional sophomore album Gloss Drop and make it far less interesting and original. Remix albums usually don’t enjoy glowing reputations, especially if the source material they are mirroring is something that operates outside of club beats.
Last year, Brooklyn experimental band Battles regrouped after the departure of keyboardist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton to release Gloss Drop, a followup to their 2007 debut, Mirrored. They build here on that momentum with the aptly named Dross Glop, a collection of remixes commissioned to a variety of producers. Since February, they’ve been dropping the album in pieces on 12-inch vinyl, and now they’ve assembled the songs together in one effort.
“Math rock” seems like such a mundane descriptor for a band like Battles, whose music sounds a lot like what might happen if Dan Deacon got drunk and picked up a guitar. Instead, I prefer the term my colleague Matthew Cole used in his review of the band’s Gloss Drop: cartoon prog, which, though it was specifically applied to Battles’ debut, Mirrored, perfectly summarizes the devilish exhilaration of the band’s entire body of work. There’s no rock song from the past decade as insane, animated, or wonderfully weird as Gloss Drop‘s “Sweetie & Shag,” nor one as bubbly yet foreboding as “Sundome,” which plays like the soundtrack to the bloody, fiery end of a Carribbean cruise party.
Given that Battles are signed to Warp and have considerable credibility in the electronic world, it was inevitable that the dance-math fusioneers would release a remix album. In a similar fashion to Radiohead's TKOL RMX series, these remixes were released as limited edition twelve-inches and compiled on disc very shortly after for the non-vinyl crowd. In nearly every case, the remix version does justice to the original while taking the track to a completely different place sonically.
Nearly a year ago experimental trio Battles released their second full length ‘Gloss Drop’, a world away from ‘Mirrored’ as their frontman Tyondai Braxton left the band, but in his place were a set of guest vocalists including Gary Numan and Kazu Makino; who managed to break up the otherwise instrumental release without overshadowing the three members’ idiosyncratic talents. In a live environment, Battles are constantly remixing their own songs so it seems natural for them to be bringing out a series of remixes, by other artists. Especially with the remix album gaining popularity as of late with Jamie xx’s rework of Gil Scott Heron’s final album ‘I’m New Here’ being a massive hit amongst those who are fans of both artists.