Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Battles -- B EP
Dim Mak; 2004

Battles is one of those bands that you have to see live to truly understand what they're all about. With all that's happening onstage (a fucking ton) it's such a multi-sensory experience. This presents Battles greatest, er, challenge; that is how to translate such an engaging live presence onto record. B EP, the tail end of a trio of EPs put out by the band, nearly does them justice, and certainly exceeds their previous effort of EP C.

While EP C felt excessively stiff and mapped out, Battles loosen their collars a bit on B EP. Drummer John Stanier of Helmet and Tomahawk still keeps time like fine machinery on jet fuel and the time signatures are as math-ridden as ever. What's different is how raw the music comes off. The interplay between guitarists David Konopka (Lynx) and Ian Williams (Don Caballero and Storm & Stress) is filled with more emotion than one might expect from something so exacting. Avant soloist Tyondai Braxton's impact is deep, perhaps seen most in the 12 and a half minute long "BTTLS," in all its atmospheric choppiness.

But though B EP is a decent documentation of the Battles' talent, it still pales in comparison to their live performance. Is it fair to compare a band's recorded material to what they do in front of an audience? Probably not; but since that's where they do their most impressive work, it's the best point of reference to go off of. B EP is certainly worth a listen, but definitely make an effort to see Battles live, if for no other reason than to see whether I'm entirely crazy or not.

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