Battles – Mirrored (Warp) 2007


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This time of year is kind of fun for the rock nerd. All of the Top album lists come out and as a bona fide nerd I eagerly scan them for records I missed during the year. A mate of mine helpfully emailed me the best album lists of the Guardian newspaper, Rolling Stone, Uncut, Mojo, Spin, NME, Mixmag, Q and Drowned in Sound. Now it might surprise you that their lists and mine are quite different beasts. I think the only records I liked that they bothered putting in their lists were Liars and Panda Bear. I also liked that new Interpol album but I didn’t think it was so good that it needed to be in a Best Of list but maybe I’m wrong on that. When you read these lists the main thing that struck me about 2007 is just what a completely fucked year it was for music. Arcade Fire, fucking Spoon for fucks sake. All too clever by half I say.

This is a round about way of getting to the new Battles record. Now I’d been hearing good things about this band for a while. But there are a couple of good reasons why I didn’t go near it.

  1. the drummer is that guy from Helmet
  2. the term “math rock” was being bandied about far too often for my taste. (see my Polvo post on my views about that)
  3. I’d been burnt by that LCD Soundsystem record of a couple of years ago

Now the third one may not make sense to some of you but that LCD Soundsystem was a piece of shit and everyone was jerking off on it like something that was worthy to jerk off too. I bought it, it was crap and I remain bitter. The same fanfare greeted this record. I decided to buy it because my parents gave me a big fat cheque for Christmas and I decided to spend it all on records and I thought “fuck it”, and took a punt.

The first two times I listened to it I just didn’t get it. The post I was drafting in my head was histrionic and a little angry. But hey, I persisted, and fuck me if this is one of those records that may not immediately grab you but sneaks up behind you and blows in your ear (but less annoying). This record is fucking great. It’s like Tortoise crossed with Polvo. There are a big mixtures of styles like an improvised jam band made up of a rock pig, jazz noodler, electro freak and a computer technician. It’s all smart time signatures, hyperkinetic drum beats. The best tracks are the super long ones Atlas, Tonto, Tij and Rainbow. Atlas is extraodinary and I’m heading off this afternoon to buy the extended EP’s they’ve released. Mirrored is all I’ve been listening to for days and it continues to delight. This makes a lot of those same lists that I’ve listed above. Maybe they are not all as lead-eared as I thought.

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2 Responses to “Battles – Mirrored (Warp) 2007”

  1. humm – yes I too had been staying away even though the blogs raved about them. That was because a) Helmet & b) maths rock (see my comment in the Polvo review).
    However if you rate it than maybe, just maybe, it is worth a listen.
    Oddly I have been thinking of indulging in the new LCD Soundsystem cd – he rates M E smith highly which is a good start.
    Ah the lists, the endless list – everyone seems to have one, much like an ..
    Most I consider crap & I’ll admit to not going anywhere near a lot of it. Saw Times New Viking on one & Pissed Jeans on another which made me happy but didn’t see the Wooden Shjips or The Lamps. I am still thinking what to do with my Xmas money but those are the only “new bands” that have my attention otherwise I am just a grumpy old look back bore!

  2. Yup still think 2007 was a crap year for music but that it’s not the only one.
    Hey there is a new Fall album soon that might do the trick cos not a lot curling my toes so far this year.
    Oh this, sigh. I thought “fuck it” and I listened to it twice – once with headphones & once without. For all you people who love it – go for it, often…more room at the rest of the cd racks for me! If you are curious – yup it’s maths rock. It felt like they phoned it in. I wanted to shove a big sharp stick there…. forget it. I had to get me kids Veronica’s cd out and danced around that, hey call me a wild and crazy guy.
    This I will stay away from it & so should you. But if you get the urge then listen to some Kraftwerk.
    Yeah maybe I need to listen to it 10 more times but lifes too short.

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