The Indie Equation

The Unholy Marriage of Music and Math.


Equation #32: Battles

Simulcast on


The robots are coming! And they've learned how to make you shake your booty!

The debut full-length by the much EP'd NY band Battles is on a mission like a rich Nigerian potentate to infect you with it's intractable, mesmerizing virus. Resistance is futile and you WILL be assimilated, "Mirrored" beeps, chimes, buzzes and grinds like a clockwork juggernaut from the first spastic, cd-skip drum idle to the last click and blip. When people typically think of "dance" music, they probably think of something with a strong back-beat, lots of repetition and a steady hook. Battles, however, would like you to rethink what it means to dance, toss out your notions of sweaty models grinding their crotches together and imagine a more fevered, hectic scenario; a distant future tribe of people lunging and stomping in unison, shaking and flailing their limbs as if to summon some ancient and elder god to silence a volcano or end a drought. This isn't just music to get lost in, it's music to lose YOURSELF in. The maniac rhythms and throbbing synths urge you to freak out and start twitching. The syncopated tones and cheerfully insane whistles beckon you into a state of frothing abandon before lulling you into a passive, trance-like state where you're left to drift in the vast ocean of slow, drugged up freak outs.

People also call this type of music "math rock", which I can appreciate, as music at it's root form is essentially mathematics, but if this music is "math rock" then it applies to "math" as it was understood around the time of the Spanish Inquisition; a satanic, pagan system that was foul and heathenish in the eyes of Almighty God. This is no more "math" than a sausage is a Fruit Roll-up. However I bet it "Mirrored", run through a computation machine, hooked to an oscilloscope and fed through a vacuum tube would produce some interesting spreadsheets.

Overall this album is a refreshing glimpse into a rarely palatable genre of music, especially coming from a band from New York. Normally when I hear "avant garde" I gag a little on the mental pictures of over-serious performance artists shoveling breakfast cereal into their underpants dressed like a Greek god on a pogo stick, but this is the good kind of avant garde, the kind that actually has merit and relevance in reality. And for that, Battles, I thank you.


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