Crossfade was doing some casual afternoon lurking when the Events section of the Nightdrive blog slapped us in the face with some pretty cool news.
According to the Miami promoters-slash-bloggers, math-rock mutant-pop ensemble Battles will be making its return to South Florida. The listing offers little information aside that the gig will be going down on the Thursday of Halloween weekend, and it will be held at recent New Times' Best Venue winner Grand Central.
With a revamped lineup and the recent release of its first full-length in four years, we're excited to see what the trio has in-store.
Miami's last dalliance with Battles took place in the summer of 2007 when the group -- then a quartet featuring avant composer, Tyondai Braxton, son of esteemed experimental composer Anthony Braxton -- took the stage at now-defunct downtown venue Studio A. The band was riding the momentum of its debut full-length, Mirrored, which departed from earlier, all-instrumental EPs and catapulted the band to mid-sized indie success including festival circuits, Pitchfork attention, and other contemporary kinds of making it.
The album's lead single "Atlas," accounted for much of the steam, and perfectly encapsulated the group's transition from a dense, highly repetitious minimal math-rock group to a more pop-oriented application of that technical prowess.
Exhibit A: "SZ2," the opening track to Battles' EP B (2004) takes its time (a whole two minutes) with gurgling, distanced guitar drone. At about 1:53, a clean-tone, finger-picked guitar slowly emerges, followed by emphatically pounding drums at 2:39. The rest of the track grooves hard on intricate plucking, and wraps up a speedy math-punk finale.
Exhibit B: "Atlas" gets right to the point, with galloping drums and equally bouncing guitar work. The biggest departure, though, are the front-and-center vocals, which practically scream, "2007!," when every vocalist was trying to be a psychedelic pixie ragamuffin in the wake of Animal Collective and, to a lesser extent, the New Weird America folk contingent epitomized by Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. While Battles retained its knack for complicated, Krautrock-zoned, richly textured instrumentals, the vocals permeating Mirrored aesthetically recall a distinct trend in 2000s indie rock. And the video is shiny.
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So what's up with Battles these days? Well, the band's been pared down to a three piece after Braxton left the fold. Also, the new record features guest vocals from the likes of the Boredoms' Yamantaka Eye and Blonde Redhead's Kazu Makino. And if their new album, Gloss Drop, and lead single "Ice Cream" -- featuring vocals from Chilean composer and DJ Matias Aguayo and a quirky indie music video -- is any indication, it seems the group is continuing to develop its angular musicianship with the aid of fresh-sheen pop stylistics.
Battles. Thursday, October 27. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.