Battles: Gloss Drop




Gloss Drop

(WARP, 2011)

We have to agree to the fact that when Mirrored was released four years ago, it was some of the best new music kicking around. Ty Braxton and friends mixed some cartoon voices with heavy drums, neurotic guitars and catchy rhythm. It wasn’t just some electronic rock. Now that Ty is gone the other three members have to show us what stuff they are made of.  During the last few months countless have been the criticisms and prejudices that preceded the release of Gloss Drop. The hardcore fans of the 2007 album would always judge a new approach as a failure, becoming music experts in random forums, trying to find the flaws, which make Battles out of the hype radar.

Battles were a group of musicians: Ian Williams, Tyondai Braxton, (musician and multi-instrumentalist, son of the jazz musician Anthony Braxton) , David Konopka and John Stanier. Even if the lack of Ty is sometimes inevitable, the other members asked four musical guests to collaborate Gloss Drop, creating 13 songs which show a methodical and careful attention to detail, research and experimentation of sounds.

If Africastle mixes some prog-rock with a crescendo of frenzy and pace, Ice Cream is a mix of Caribbean atmosphere and some ska-reggae influence on a rock basis, all accompanied by a magnificent Mathias Aguayo. Same atmosphere in Sundome (ft. Yamantaka Eye) and Dominican Fade, a perfect instrumental version of an alternative resort theme song. Some frenetic electrobeat appears in songs more or less successful like Wall Street or the minimalistic My Machines, ft. Gary Numan. The drums fade a bit, even if they get back in all their glory in songs like White Electric, the pop trappings diminish but the substance remains.

Battles show us as music can be just for pure entertainment, multifaceted and evolving; it may often betray our expectations, but it doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a bad thing, is it?


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