Am I the only person who still likes Battles just as much as when Tyondai Braxton was still a member of the group? Yes, it’s true that the band have yet to reach the gloriously dizzy heights of ‘Atlas’ again since ‘Mirrored’ was released in 2007 . But I still really like ‘Gloss Drop’ which was one of my favourite albums of 2011 and definitely one of the most memorable album covers from that year too. Having now listened to the consistently brilliant new remix album ‘Dross Glop’, I hope that people will now start to hear things in the original album that maybe they had missed before. This is something of a paradox though because unsurprisingly, many of the original songs are almost beyond recognition in their remixed form given that experimental artists such as The Field and Qluster have been let loose on them. As a result, some are obviously more accessible than others with Silent Service’s remix of ‘Inchworm’ probably being the least listenable. But Gui Boratto’s version of ‘Wall Street’ is an excellent opener and Gang Gang Dance’s take on ‘Ice Cream’ loses none of the fun of the original. Like most remix collections, ‘Dross Glop’ doesn’t exactly hang together well as an album but it is still a fresh and interesting listen.
The obvious criticism of Battles’ live performances on their tour last year was that having no lead vocalist has reduced their gigs to little more than glorified DJ sets with the slightly odd experience of watching videos of the guest vocalists on giant screens while the band play. However, having seen Battles play live at Plug in Sheffield last November, I believe the band are still enthralling to watch, particularly drummer John Stanier (and judging by their reaction, I think the rest of the crowd seemed to agree). Their performance of their new material was note-perfect and I was surprised and pleased to see ‘Atlas’ was still included in their set as I thought they might refuse to ever play it again à la Thom Yorke and ‘Creep’.
Just as ‘Gloss Drop’ was a complete departure from ‘Mirrored’, it’s likely that a third album will also reveal a totally new direction for Battles. As one of the most innovative bands around today, I would be disappointed if Battles didn’t continue to surprise, fascinate and entrance through their work. Watch this space.