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Gloss Drop [VINYL] Double LP

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Vinyl (6 Jun. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Double LP
  • Label: Warp
  • ASIN: B004S526LY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 277,169 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

Warp Records * 2LP * gatefold * stereo * EU * * * *

BBC Review

Enough bands have lost members and gone on to greater successes for the departure of founding member Tyondai (son of Anthony) Braxton to, on paper, not significantly impact on the chances of Battles’ second album matching the acclaim of the New Yorkers’ remarkable debut of 2007, Mirrored. But the reality here is rather different. Although predominantly an instrumental ensemble, Battles’ breakthrough came with the Braxton-voiced (albeit effects-laden) Atlas, a powerful single which has since made its way into mass-media ubiquity. Without his presence – the human-after-all angle – Battles could easily be short an element which was so important in their emergence from the indie underground.

To combat this threat, the remaining trio – John Stanier, Ian Williams and Dave Konopka – have enlisted a cluster of guest contributors, ranging from Gary Numan to the margins-occupying likes of Matias Aguayo and Boredoms’ Yamantaka Eye. Completing the vocal line-up is Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, fellow New Yorkers with a penchant for pushing the indie-rock envelope. But her track, Sweetie & Shag, comes over like a Blonde Redhead song remixed rather than a Battles one with a new set of pipes at the forefront. Her voice is simply that recognisable, and it can only overpower the rambunctious rock around it. Sundome is rather more balanced, but the pseudonym-loving Yamantaka seems to have been given only an auto-pilot jam to work with, the closer lacking the energy of earlier efforts.

Everything on Gloss Drop is excellently performed – the players are seasoned professionals, and with Battles a going concern since 2002 there was never going to be any sloppiness on show. However, whether this set represents a significant step onwards from Mirrored is questionable. When tracks remain instrumental, attentions can wander, and arguably there’s nothing here with the immediacy of the vocal-free Tras single of 2004. White Electric should raise many a pulse, and opener Africastle does everything the fair-weather Battles fan wants from them: it’s technically assured, tremendously structured, and you can dance to it. But the basic formulas remain much as they were almost a whole decade ago.

Fine though the instrumentals are, one of the vocal cuts proves to be the most memorable song here. And it’s not the Numan number: My Machines is an overly busy affair that suffocates the electro pioneer with twinkling keys and chasm-opening percussion. It’s Chilean artist Aguayo’s Ice Cream – rightly this album’s lead single – that really shines: a dazzling four-and-a-half minutes of grunts and groans, chimes and clatter, pings and zings and bells and whistles and the kitchen sink, it’s every bit as brilliant a treat as its titular inspiration. That it’s the track here that most closely resembles Battles with Braxton in the fold is evidence enough that this band is missing a vital organ. Sadly, it would appear to be the heart.

--Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Firstly, I'll note the loss of Braxton. Since the release of Mirrored, Braxton released his solo album and from listening to that it was clear where his influences were on Mirrored. He was clearly influential in their sound, and even though he was the lesser known of the four (with the exception of Konopka - previously of the not-known-enough Lynx), his absence is notable.
It might be in part that he was a 3rd person to play instruments, which lends to their layered sound. But it's also apparent that he is an experienced (and excellent, as seen on Central Market) composer and multi-instrumentalist.

Aside from Braxton, Battles have coped very well and while this album took a little while to get accustomed to, it really is an excellent album. The non-vocal tracks have lines and melodies that centralise the tracks and stop them from being an exercise in how to create interesting poly-rhythms (something that Williams is not always able to do: a good example of his work being What Burns from the Don Cab back catalogue. A Bad one being the follow up..) but have no catchiness that makes you want to return.

The choice of vocalists are excellent too, all of which are probably considered quite out of the box thinking. Numan is a wonderful choice, making one of the stand out tracks in a conventional pop sense. Yamantaka Eye on the other hand gives an awful vocal which seems to push the band into a corner as to what to do with it, and so they come up with a bizarre sounding reggae/dancehall through a meatgrinder thing... which should've been a b-side to a song that no-one would buy. It ends the album in a way that is just horrible. Just wrong.

Matias Aguayo on the other hand is a choice that maybe only the world music fans would've pricked up their ears for.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a fantastic follow up to Mirrored. It's different in many ways, but for somebody that has only listened to the debut or the EPs this would still be instantly recognisable as Battles, as many of the key structural elements are still there, including of course John Stanier's marvelous drumming. I cannot comment on Braxton's departure since it is impossible to tell what would have been different with him on it, but this work is certainly on a par with Mirrored if not slightly better.

Talking in terms of Pitchfork's scale, I'd say this is a solid 9 (so ignore their very stupid review) and Bon Iver's follow up is about a 6 max (idem), just to put my taste into some perspective. In any case, try before you buy and watch them live if you have the chance.
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Format: Audio CD
This album has knocked my socks off. It's brilliantly inventive and upbeat. It puts a spring into my step and makes me punch the air with joy. And you can't argue with that.

Though a massive fan of Warp, this is my first Battles purchase, the previous work I never bothered with mainly because I never liked their big track Atlas, and as that annoyed the hell out of me I presumed the rest wasn't my cup of tea either.

This is a different beast. But a beautiful beast.

A future classic.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Kind of knew what to expect after Mirrors, but I think this is more enjoyable. we still get the carefully constructed lunacy but it's tempered by the collaborations with other artists- giving much more depth to the album, and when the band go it alone the tracks are allowed to rock a little more, or funk, or whatever else breezes by. It sounds more spontaneous, more fun. Still don't know how they play some of this stuff. And Gary Numan!
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Format: Audio CD
All I knew of Battles' work before this release was Atlas.

I was reminded of their existence by the video for Ice Cream (which is glorious, check it out in the battlestheband channel on YouTube. I'd urge you to view other similarly excellent videos by the Barcelona collective known as 'Canada' at partizan.com, but lets not get sidetracked.)

Anyway Gloss Drop is a delightful album, at the time of writing there's only one other review and I just wanted to say don't be put off by comments about the closing track featuring Yamantaka Eye, I liked it and would would go so far as to say I thought it one of the best tracks, its all a matter of taste I suppose. I do agree with the other reviewer that Gary Numan is outstanding on 'My Machines' though.

I'm surprised not to see Vampire Weekend listed in either the 'people also bought' recommendations on Amazon or the related artists on Spotify - in my opinion of you like Vampire Weekend you'll really enjoy this album (and vice versa).
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