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Battles: Gloss Drop

November 1, 2011

At first listen, you wouldn’t be foolish for thinking that this was an electronic record; Battles’ sound is thick and compressed, with beat-forward songs and a reliance on guest vocalists. That all this funky, chunky music is put out by a trio speaks to the kind of weirdness that is perhaps the band’s key strength. This record sits squarely in a new space, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m saying that with full knowledge that it’s a cliche.

“Futura” is a good example of what this record is about. It begins with a back and forth chord on the beat, and the space that is left begins to quickly fill up with syncopated fills, played so tightly they sound likeĀ  a sample with the gate cranked. Soon sounds mount underneath all this rhythmic play, setting the stage for even more layers of interlocking riffs that stack up hugely. A few melodies glide over everything, and there are eventual moments of unity, if brief. There isn’t really a verse or a chorus, or any sort of “rock band” song structure. It just moves, and you move with it.

If Gloss Drop is primarily about rhythm, it is secondly about sound. Not sound in general, but the kind of consistent, identifiable sound that a band sometimes develops. Gloss Drop has that sound throughout, and it’s what makes the record so good. The guitar doesn’t sound like a guitar, and there are too many crazy effects and noises for this to be just a trio. As a result, rock fans likely won’t appreciate this record. Electronic fans might, if it ever flashed up on their radar. So what kind of audience is Gloss Drop for? Me, for one. Worth owning.

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