Battles JUICE B CRYPTS Warp
Battles’ music often sounds more android than human, like they’re anthropomorphised, misbehaving robots running amok in a futuristic music shop. JUICE B CRYPTS may be the band’s first release as a duo (after the departure of multi-instrumentalist Dave Konopka) but beginning as it does with Ambulance – the sound of a synth falling down a helter-skelter – it’s clear this is a Battles record. John Stanier’s propulsive, creative drumming and Ian Williams – who does everything but drum – concocting jittering noises and weird shapes.
The title track sounds like a malfunctioning machine and Forte Green Park evokes Kraftwerk before veering off into a rusted, wiry guitar line. So far, so Battles. But, four years on from the vocal-free La Di Da Di, the band are joined by vocalists who help to liberate the tracks and add a freewheeling spirit to the record. Sal Principato of Liquid Liquid provides wild-eyed yelps to Titanium 2 Step; Sugar Foot sees Jon Anderson of Yes and Taiwanese psych band Prairie WWWW create a distant cousin of Atlas; Izm, a collaboration with Shabazz Palaces, boasts a shadowy groove unlike anything Battles have created before.
The closing track The Last Supper on Shasta is a squelching space lullaby where tUnE-yArDs asks, “What’s that view like up in the sky?” before a piano plays the synth notes you heard right at the beginning on Ambulance. It’s a reminder that, behind all the robotics in Battles’ hyper-creativity, there lies a human heartbeat.