Skip to main content

Battles

Liquid Room, Edinburgh
4 stars
Forget the unfortunate Math Rock tag. Battles are just King Crimson with cheekbones. Even when the American quartet’s guitarist Dave Konopka appears to be conducting the amplifiers at the start and close of the band’s set drawn largely from this summer’s debut album proper, Mirrored, released by electronic specialist label Warp, though, it’s done with ineffable cool and not a Prog cape in sight.

With members having served time between them in assorted stalwarts of America’s rock underground, Konopka, fellow guitarist/keyboardists Ian Williams and Tyondai Braxon and drummer John Stanier could qualify as a super-group. Especially given that Braxton is the son of avant-jazz composer Anthony Braxton.

Braxton junior is the nearest thing the band has to a focal point, his sampled vocals at times resembling the wordless classicism of Hocus Pocus by Focus as reimagined by the equally debonair Strokes. Williams, meanwhile, holds his red guitar high, as if Battles were the band imagined by Edinburgh’s Fire Engines thirty years ago. Its Stanier’s drums, though, complete with six foot cymbal stand, that drives them, and makes total sense of the band’s presence on Warp by putting a pounding pulse to the sort of baroque instrumental dance-scapes The Aphex Twin’s crazed composer shtick dreamt up through his lap-top.

Beyond 1970s wigginess, there’s everything tossed into the mix here from Charles Ives and American marching bands to wild west soundtracks and Glam rock stomp, all wrapped up in frantic Hardcore trappings, but with a regimented precision that leaves nothing to chance. Which, following previous Edinburgh outings at Triptych and supporting Four Tet, may take the edge off things a tad, but makes for a thrilling set nonetheless.

The Herald, October 22nd 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …