This is Battles' 1st album proceeding a couple of E.P.s and all I can say is it's absolutely nutss! I've read quite a lot about Mirrored and everyone has a different opinion of what kind of music it is or where it should be pidgeonholed. I love it when music critics get confused!
Some people are classing it as `post rock' which would place them alongside bands like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed. Way off.
Some people have christened it dance music. Eh? Nowhere close.
Some view Mirrored as a `math rock' album. Does anyone know what `Math Rock' is anyway?
Most stick it in the prog rock category, which is a lot closer than the others but still not quite there.
Whatever the opinion of what genre they belong all the professional reviews I've read are gushing over this album. However good it is I don't think it warrants quite so much praise; here's why.
Battles are one of those bands that genuinely defy categorisation and cannot be described under a general term. It's complex fairly cerebral music and incredibly hard to wrap your brain around on the first listen. Battles are drums, guitars, bass, vocals and keyboards; pretty standard rock group elements but what is produced is nothing like you've heard before.
The music is based around very short riffs and loops strung together with fills, runs and bridges many with awkward timings and odd rhythms. It's quite robotic and lacking in soul and the electronic elements; keyboards, samples, and effects emphasise this. The vocals are equally abstract; whistling, bizarre high pitched effects and odd chanting. It's weird stuff, and when all these elements are described it sounds really off putting. Yet it's a strangely compelling listen. The first listen is one of shock and awe; the quality of the musicianship; the lack of any traditional structure or melody. Yet it's these qualities that bring you back, it's kind of like slowing down for a car crash; you don't want to, it's wrong, but some morbid curiosity makes you go through with it.
After repeated listens it is apparrent that Mirrored does contain some melody, particularly in `Race : In', `Atlas' and `Tonto', and you'll just keep coming back for more. Mirrored is far too inaccessable and esoteric for Battles to get big but I wouldn't be surprised if they gained themselves quite the cult following.
Go on, take a chance and buy some brand new music that sounds like nothing you have heard and probably never will again, what big loss could it be? Whether you'll enjoy it is another matter...