Well this has been a long time coming. It’s been 18 months since I first spoke to Battles for an In The Studio feature on ‘Gloss Drop’ in late 2009, when the four of them were rehearsing new tracks in a dingy space near Times Square.
At the time the band were really riled up by the whole thing, toying with new pedals and programmes and writing new songs “on a daily basis” ahead of a stint at Kentucket’s Machines With Magnets studios. Guitarist (and creator of that alluring/grotesque cover art) Dave Konopka told me of the “leapfrogging type process between all of us as we add more and more ingredients to the pot”. It sounded exciting.
Next thing you know, a year and a half has gone by. For whatever reasons it’s meant a bit of a wait to say the least but it’s been worth it. In the meantime they’ve roped in everyone from Gary Numan (on the driving ‘My Machines’) to techno producer Matias Aguayo (on ‘Ice Cream’), Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino and Boredoms’ Yamantake Eye and landed with a frenetic, surprising, just-challenging-enough beauty of a record.
“The second album is sink or swim type of shit” Dave said, “and if this bombs that really sucks and doesn’t set us up – people might consider us a fluke.” When I asked what reaction they were expecting from ‘Gloss Drop’ Konopka said “I would hope reviewers say that it’s some next level shit”.
It’s tempting. Or, in the words of Brian Eno: “when I saw Battles I thought, ‘Damn! Why didn’t I think of that?’”
Battles are curating this year’s Nightmare Before Christmas All Tomorrow’s Parties with Caribou and Les Savy Fave – more details on the ATP site. So what do you think of the album?