Experimentation in music, click as in all things, salve inherently comes with miscalculated risk. A fact of life for adventurous musicians, there’s no shortage of legendary performers who may have misstepped before taking their great leap forward. With a trio of engaging EPs and a storied collective history in bands like Don Caballero, Lynx and Helmet, the four members of Battles know a thing or two about the musical process. Their first full-length LP for UK’s Warp imprint, Mirrored, represents the best (and at times worst) elements of an untethered approach to songwriting. But as often is the case in situations devoid of rule, creative freedom can sometimes give way to chaos. This is NOT the case with “Tonto,” in my opinion the best song Battles has written to date and an absolute classic of instrumental rock music. The middle third is simply out-of-control good. Perhaps it’s my myopic look at the band’s use of vocal experimentation that occasionally rubs me the wrong way; but overall I challenge anyone to suggest a band, currently working in a similar paradigm, who combine true experimentation and accessibility. They are neither Don Cab, nor Helmet, but it’s clear that the legacies of both of those fantastic bands live on in Battles. Not a perfect album, but it’s strong points are triumphant enough to smooth out the rougher edges. This is unclassifiable music at it’s most intriguing.
RIYL: Don Caballero, Tyondai Braxton, Frank Zappa, Tomahawk, Coptic Light, Faith No More, Tool