BATTLES are the Networked Band, or perhaps the-band-as-network; an island chain linked by a unique combination of artistry, experimentation, technology and singular focus; a three-headed cyborg that forces our aptitude for pure physical industry to flirt lasciviously with our encroaching digital reality; a band that holds computerised loops in their brains, leaves sweat on their machines and whose sonic heartbeat is almost brutally human.
It only makes sense that such bastards of both the hi-tech and lo-tech worlds would look for an alternative means of communication. LA DI DA DI is the prompt, the exclamation and the riddle to hang in the air while we try to make sense of just what BATTLES have done now.
DAVE KONOPKA, IAN WILLIAMS and JOHN STANIER have turned the tables on themselves this time; confronted their own idea of what BATTLES is – and here, on their third album, have willed an answer to that question into existence. The tangled wires and entrails of previously albums MIRRORED and GLOSS DROP have been pulled out, flung against the wall and scraped into an unruly pile to be trod upon.
As the name might imply, LA DI DA DI is a mushrooming monolith of repetition. Here is an organic techno thrum of nearly infinite loops that refuse to remain consistent. The rhythmic genus of BATTLES is here as ever: full frontal, heightened and unforgiving; the gauntlet through which melody and harmony must pass, assailed at every turn. THE YABBA squawks to life, tumbling down the stairs before it finds its own dislocated gait. The title of DOT NET hints at its propulsive bait-and-glitch, SUMMER SIMMER and FF BADA twitchily reach dizzy heights of forward-gazing no wave bluster.
For a breather, CACIO E PEPE isn’t much of a breather, all unsettling harmonic shafts of light, like a short walk on an especially strange beach. The album’s middle section, that it bookends with its spiritual cousin TYNE WEAR, are surely some of the more mutated deployments of conventional rock instrumentation you’ll have heard in some time. It’s about at this point that you begin to realise the truly bionic reimagining of what a band can sound like.
That seems like hyperbole until you lurch into the eerie skank of MEGATOUCH, and by the time you realise that genre has been swept out of the window, you’re thrown unapologetically through the percussive FLORA > FAUNA and into the seeming zero-gravity of LUU LE, which reveals itself to be a shape shifting carnival ride, eventually depositing you gently at the exit gate.
Wondering how on earth you’ll explain what LA DI DA DI means.
Battles will appear in the UK on the world tour in October on the following dates:
Fri 23 MANCHESTER Academy 2
Sat 24 BRISTOL Simple Things
Sun 25 GLASGOW ABC 1
Wed 28 LONDON Electric Ballroom