Battles: Mirrored



When it comes to music, "weird" is just another word for "things we might not yet realize work perfectly"—and Battles are weird. Which should be expected, given the backgrounds of the musicians involved: Guitarists Ian Williams and Dave Konopka were in the inventive post-rock outfits Don Caballero and Lynx, respectively; drummer John Stanier cut his teeth in alt-metal stalwart Helmet; and guitarist/laptopper/noise engineer Tyondai Braxton is the son of free-jazz genius Anthony Braxton, and an accomplished tinkerer in his own right. What we're given with Mirrored, Battles' first album, is a sprawl of modular instrumentation, rhythmic perplexity, and the occasional nudge to the ribs.

It's on point when it focuses on delivering heavy chops and gleeful absurdity at the same time: "Atlas" is a heavy shuffle-stomp glam-rock groove that turns the swagger of songs like Sweet's "Block Buster" into a droning rodent sea shanty, "Bad Trails" mixes power-pop "oh oh oh" vocals into airport music for Sun Ra's aviary, and "Rainbow" splits up a couple of fusillades of windpipe-throttling percussion and sustained guitar noise with a brief interlude of British music-hall piano funk.

The biggest strength of Mirrored is its titular evocation of endless reflections: Like the last scene of Enter the Dragon, it deceives you constantly with disorienting refractions of time and meter and sound, until you're not entirely sure where you're going, much less where you're standing at that moment.