Battles sans Braxton (CD Review)

Gloss Drop
Warp Records

After appearing on their previous LP, Mirrored, Tyondai Braxton has left Battles to pursue solo projects (including several indie classical commissions). And while Braxton’s contributions were a significant component of Mirrored, the band does just fine without him on Gloss Drop.

They’ve retained their signature mathy rhythms and frenetically whimsical jump cut forms. In addition, Battles aren’t shy about delving into two styles whose heyday was in the 1970s: prog and fusion. But both of these (in my opinion, unjustly) maligned signatures are given a post-millennial reboot by the band; infused with aspects of glitch and house electronica.

What’s more, Gloss Drop includes several stirring guest vocal contributions. Matias Aguayo adds a vibrant presence to the up tempo, kaleidoscopically scored, and Latin pop tinged single “Ice Cream.” In a break from her regular gig with Blonde Redhead, Kazu Makino’s powerful pipes are pressed into service on the mid-tempo syncopated techno pop cut “Sweetie and Shag.” Yamantaka Eye (from the Boredoms) is heard amidst fervid ostinatos of pitched percussion and neo-prog guitar solos in layers of reverberant, incantatory singing.

On Gloss Drop, Battles have made a diversely attired yet adeptly constructed album that’s as fascinating as it is singular.

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