In this inert music slump that so desperately burns for change, the creation of a raw new clamor, void of regimented structure or mass approval, is a prodigious victory indeed. Before we cork the champagne and toast the ringleaders of the next art noise revolution, we must first confront these newfangled math rock scholars, a seasoned gang of impressive infidels that leave underground cools and mainstream moneybags without any plan of defense. This overpowering landslide of riotous rag-timers is known as Battles.
Here is how it's going down. "Yo bro have you clocked that new Battles record yet?" You tamely reply, "No, but can you dig me the dirt on them dudes?" And then I say, "Their sound is very easy to explain, you see, it's the drummer from Helmet." This is where you instinctively belt out a polite "oh ok" but you don't really mean it, because you can't begin to imagine what I'm hearing. "Yes John Steiner from Helmet, the drummer who still despises Page Hamilton, the same set of sticks that banged skins on Melissa Auf De Maur's album, who also sits behind Mike Patton's Tomahawk kit." After you tally that info, it adds up to a sum that you still cannot afford. Then I cleverly inquire, "Remember them old school A-pluses in the math rock department at Touch And Go named Don Caballero? Well Ian Williams, the DC guitarist is in Battles too." Behind a great breath of false understanding you belt out a convincing "ah, yes" as if tiny leaks of information successfully seep through your cement skull. But they don't. Your dim mind fails to find true illumination. Finally, this big mouth of mine spits you with this goober: "The singer is Toni Braxton...'s brother." Game over. You have no accessible category to stuff these vicious intelligents into.
Nothing has given my sack a suicide squeeze enough to mention in 2007 quite like the diabolical collection of instrumental chaos reflected on Mirrored. Spooky chants come floating like whimsical souls that wander aimlessly, and wonder helplessly, what sort of wicked sound summoned them specifically. Jumbles of scrambled guitars fiendishly designed to drain human senses with explicit ruthlessness, rumble with smashes of 80s hardcore kicks full of zest and vibrancy, as these cumbrous beats of titanic aggression that continually strike more stunning and serious than a hyper viper, slice my vitals with instantaneous poison. I'm dying for more.
The monumental achievement "Atlas" should be played at the beginning of every rock show from the space needle to lady liberty, like the new national anthem for an underground of old souls. That pulverizing breach in the typical sound system is one that must only be looked at as an act of positive terrorism, one capable of scaring some movement into the fossilized thicket of conglomerate stumps too wealthy to quit and senile to die. The video is an immaculate capture of this frenetic band's mesmerizing stature. Their obtuse performance art is the bold kind of beautiful that you dream of having your heart broken by, just to fall victim to such an unexplainable rarity.
"Leyendecker" comes closest to the album's pop single, with eerie vocals that sound like a butterfly trapped in a jar of fluorescent honey, screaming for help as it slowly drowns into the comb. "Tij" is a throbbing bag of exasperation that explodes in a cataclysmic blast of spiritual, ritual de lo habitual, mystical evocation of a celebrated god on an unassuming street corner in mid-town Manhattan. The tirade of "Ddiamondd" felt more rambunctious and terrifying than the riots of Los Angeles in 1992 or the Chicago democratic convention of 1968. Before eyes can think quick enough to blink, the seven-minute ride of "Tonto" saddles up and blazes away.
A band of instrument zealots such as these live in the rehearsal space. The four boys all make love to the same dingy room, that stuffy summer sweat box with beer stained carpet and Shellac posters on the water damaged wall, generating a terrorizing new plague of wrathful virtuosity. Try bottling up the spastic defiance of Refused and brainy contortion of Fugazi. At this time, with only this hair-raising collection of music to hypothesize over, neither retro researchers of yesterday's roots nor frontrunners for tomorrow's new noise can accurately determine just how dangerous or valuable Battles truly are.