SOUNDTRACK: BATTLES-Glass Drop (2011).
I didn’t know anything about Battles before I heard the single, “Ice Cream.” Battles are an experimental band comprised of the guitarist from Don Caballero (one of my favorite post-rock bands) and the drummer from Helmet. And they write music that is very angular, with lots of stops and starts and direction changes. There’s some story about their first album (which I have not heard) having a singer who left just before the recording of this album. And the remaining trio’s solution was to have outside singers sing on certain songs. And it all works very well.
The majority of the album is instrumental though. And the songs feature a very distinctive sound that I feel is close to a steel drum, but which I know is actually a keyboard–but that echoing sound is so drumlike, that when the drummer’s pounding is added, the whole album feels like a percussive explosion.
“Africastle” opens the disc with ringing guitars and a melody that uses those steel drum sounds. After about 2 minutes of slow intro, when the ferocious drums kick in, the song rockets to life in a frenzy of activity and counterpoints. It’s really quite something.
“Ice Cream” is the song that introduced me to this album. The guitars are modified to once again a steel drum sound, but the melody and rhythm are so fast staccato that it removes any sense of steel drum especially when the notes are clearly electronic. This song features vocals (no idea what they are saying) by Matias Aguayo. They compliment the sound of the music. Despite all the overlapping disparate elements the song winds up being strangely catchy. The way the chaos ends with a simple Dum duh duh dum dum… is very cool.
“Futura” continues in that staccato style but it features an aggressively catchy melody. “Inchworm” has a fun almost reggae feel amid the staccato noises. “Wall Street” brings the drums to the fore again as it propels the jumpy melody along. “My Machines” has a guest vocal from Gary Numan. I have never liked Gary Numan (I need to never hear “Cars” again) but his voice (he actually sings…sort of) works well with this cacophony.
“Dominican Fade” adds some heavier bass and wild percussion notes to this 2 minute track. It even has hand claps and cowbells at the end. “Sweetie and Shag,” has vocals from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino. She adds a whole new element to the album with her high pitched yet breathy vocals. A definite highlight.
“Toddler” is a 1 minute sng that feels like a transition into the manic and bouncy “Rolls Bayce” (which Dave Konopka describes as almost wholly an experiment).
“White Electric” start slow with some echoed notes. Then a martial beat keeps time as the notes seems to swirl around. The song builds and builds with more layers until it crashes apart at around 5 minutes. At which point the song slowly rebuilds itself into a pretty coda.
The final song sounds like a reggae singer but it is actually Yamataka Eye from The Boredoms. Konopka says that Eye sent vocals and told them to do whatever they wanted with the track. The band thought “he was speaking Japanese, but he’s just making up his own stuff and he’s repeating stuff that he’s making up.” The backing noises sound like a whale song.
Despite the weirdness of the album, there’s a lot of poppiness to it, and I think it is a great release. It also is a great headphones release, if you like that sort of thing. I need to check out their debut as well.
[READ: October 15, 2014] “Who Will Water the Wallflowers?”
I don’t quite know what to make of this story. It seemed to me to be full of individual incidents that were all wiped away by the flood that is mentioned in the very first line.
I enjoyed the details of the story quite a lot. In it, the girl (unnamed) looks after her neighbor’s cat Cha-Cha while Ms Feliz is away. Cha-Cha is a a Turkish angora, a delicate breed. And there is an interesting description of the cat after he has gotten wet in the rain. Sometime the girl sleeps at Ms Feliz’ house (her mom doesn’t mind since they live across the street).
The girl finds sanctuary in Ms Feliz’s house. Except for Mr Bradley. Mr Bradley is an enigmatic neighbor–he seems to be home all the time, dressed in work clothes and slippers. It is clear that the girl is uncomfortable around him, but he seems to always be around. He seems pleasant enough. He sees her almost every day and always asks “learning something?” to which she doesn’t know what to say. She tries to avoid him by looking for Cha-Cha, but he doesn’t leave (and Cha-Cha doesn’t show up). She tells him that she watched a film about geysers .
He replies, “I know a joke about geysers….it probably wouldn’t be appropriate.” Continue Reading »