It’s debateable whether a collection of Gloss Drop remixes should count as a Battles album proper or just an interesting coda to an entirely different musical adventure. After all, the band’s work was done before a note of these tracks was created, all they’re doing now is putting their plasticised ice cream stamp on this compilation, pulling together the four remix 12”s they’ve released over the last few months under one roof.
As with all remixes, there are moments of startling juxtaposition – Gary Numan’s pained howl has been extracted from the rampaging martial drama of My Machines, and placed under electropop glass by Patrick Mahoney & Dennis McNany. There are also moments where there’s a total disconnect between the source material and the end result – the hot, tropical Dominican Fade appears to have undergone a refrigerated body transplant by Qluster, to the extent that the two songs are unrecognisable to one another.
There are also remixes that seem to be in keeping with the band’s sonic footprint, while still drastically changing almost everything. Wall Street is now a spacious disco Bond theme, thanks to Gui Boratto, and Rolls Bayce has actually been significantly tidied up by Hudson Mohawke. It’s far more accessible than the original, while still sounding every inch like a truly berserk Battles banger. The most gleeful remix is EYE’s splattery deconstruction of Sundome, which throws fragments of the source music around like sneezed-out sherbet. And the least respectful would be White Electric, into which Shabazz Palaces have not only moved, but rebuilt from the ground up as a wet slice of subterranean hip hop.
If you’re drawn to Battles’ nimble melodic turmoil and general musical messiness, you may find some of these electro excursions to be hard work. So, if only to save yourself a big froth-on about Emperors and clothes, consider this a work of patronage by the band, a pat on the head for some of their favourite sonic explorers and the work they do. Pick the bits you like, leave the bits you don’t, and move on.
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