Hardly needs selling, does it? Last time BATTLES visited Cardiff, in August 2007, they played the Point on a Monday night to a crowd largely exhausted from Green Man (where they’d headlined a sodden Folkey Dokey tent in jaw-droppingly magnificent fashion) and still managed to round up the assembled ale-pie-and-drug-addled rabble with a breakneck set of absurdly kinetic, technical math-rock and robotic ur-disco. They were supported by a nascent TRUCKERS OF HUSK, a year on from their debut show with Lightning Bolt at the same venue and on the cusp of becoming Cardiff’s most reliably exciting live band. Four Bloody Years later, the two meet up again, both surviving line-up changes, both with new albums completed, both ready to give the lie to any backwards notion of experimental, instrumental art-rock being bloodless head music.
Battles’ second album proper Gloss Drop emerged after the departure of Tyondai Braxton, whose helium-pitched gibberish vocals (on ‘Atlas’) and manically bobbing David Luiz hairdo were a natural focus of the band in their rise to festival fixture status. It’d be wrong to pin that evolution in their style to him alone, though; his own free/experimental grounding (composer dad, composition major, loop-head solo recordist) arguably made him the oddball in a line-up of veterans of Don Caballero, Helmet and Tomahawk. Plus, just listen to how much fun the remaining three are having on Gloss Drop, stirring disparate guest vocals into an electro-rock/prog hybrid that uses their early EPs and Mirrored as equal reference points. There’s elements of disco, techno-rock and polyrhythmic pop in there, and by all accounts it sounds breathlessly exciting live.
THAT LINE-UP, though. Truckers, you could say, have tried the patience of the faithful in the last few years, but their debut full-length Accelerated Learning is finally finished and will be played in full at this gig. If they can remember how it goes, the cheeky scamps. If a replica of the 2007 line-up isn’t good enough, then how about adding the freewheeling percussive magic of ISLET to the equation? Bolstered by Huw Evans on guitar/drums/everything else, the now five-piece live Islet experience will offer new songs, frazzled, sweaty good vibes and huge, memorable shoutalong moments of pure joy. It’s already one of the best nights of the year before the headliners even come on. Miss it and be laughed at in public, basically. Oh, and don’t look for it in Millennium Music Hall, you won’t find it anymore.
TRUCKERS OF HUSK
Sunday 26th June 2011
Solus, Cardiff University
bristol ticket shop
This is a 14+ show / please bring ID
“When you see a band you really like, the reason you really like them is because you wish you’d had that idea. And when I saw Battles I thought, “Damn! Why didn’t I think of that?”
You can often spot the best bands – the truly once-in-a-generation type – by their names alone. The all time greats usually come ready made with nomenclature that encapsulates their sound and ethos effortlessly.
BATTLES are no exception. They are a rock group locked in conflict with the very limitations of what it means to be a rock group; conducting an all out assault on mediocrity and waging a fearsome campaign against genre conventions and pigeonholes. Their sound is that of an elite guard engaging in a series of complex sonic skirmishes. This is the sublime noise of equally talented musicians pushed to their limit – as interested in conducting synchronized audio attacks and ambushes on the listener as they are on each other.
GLOSS DROP is an astounding album born from resolve and resilience. It features the UK’s dark synth pop pioneer Gary Numan; Chilean born Kompakt minimal techno producer Matias Aguayo; cult indie rocker Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead; and Yamantaka Eye, the messianic
dreadlocked front man of Japanese cosmiche future beat unit, the Boredoms.
“When we’re writing songs, no one in this group has ever said ‘Wait, we’ve gone too far. This isn’t a BATTLES song.’ Because what is a BATTLES song? We don’t know. All I know is that there are noparameters and no boundaries. That is the whole point and has been since day one.”
Battles’ John Stanier, 2011