Battles | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Battles Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard

When: Sat., April 30, 10 p.m. 2011

When Tyondai Braxton, who cofounded Battles in 2002, announced his sudden departure in August, I admit I doubted the band had a future. Based partly on Braxton's stylistically slippery 2009 solo album, Central Market, I assumed he'd been the guiding force behind the genre-averse sound the quartet created on 2007's Mirrored. But the remaining members—guitarist Ian Williams, bassist Dave Konopka, and drummer John Stanier—proved me wrong with Gloss Drop (due from Warp on June 7), pushing Battles further into turf all their own. The band wrote much of the material on the new record while Braxton was still aboard, but in a Pitchfork interview Konopka says the group reworked it all. They brought in guest vocalists to compensate for Braxton's absence—techno producer Matias Aguayo, Blonde Redhead front woman Kazu Makino, new-wave relic Gary Numan, Boredoms kingpin Yamantaka Eye—but the instruments burst with so much personality, colliding daring ideas and unclassifiable sounds, that the music would sound great without any singing. There are clearly plenty of electronics and keyboards, but it's hard to say where they leave off—trying to figure out which noise is coming from where is wonderfully puzzling. The pointillistic, chiming guitars sound like a cross between steel-pan drums and amplified kalimbas; Stanier's jittery, punishing beats sound like a drum machine gone berserk. For me it counts as very high praise when I find music almost impossible to describe, so I'm very happy to be confounded by Gloss Drop's irresistible grooves, ever-shifting textures, and gleaming melodic fragments that seem somehow lighter than air and heavier than an anvil. —Peter Margasak 18+.

Price: Sold out

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