Music

Battles are the kings of experimental rock on La Di Da Di

The term and genre of experimental rock is a broad and very deep rabbit hole that one can choose to fall down if they so desire to have their mind expanded to the seams. It’s the type of genre that you will usually find loitering in the car park with other rock genres that have words like post, art, math or progressive preceding them. Be warned, this genre will challenge your auditory senses whether you want it to or not and when done right, euphoria is the feeling you might feel stirring inside.

Battles La Di Da Di

Step into the lab of mad scientists Battles and their third full-length album La Di Da Di. Bold and expressive it’s an insane journey into the unknown.

Experimental rock group Battles has done exactly that with the release of La Di Da Di, an album nothing short of a mind bending auditory journey that has left us wanting to take it over and over again. No stranger to the eccentric, Battles has been challenging our states of mind since 2002, releasing EP C, B EP (2004), Mirrored (2007) and Gloss Drop (2011). But it truly feels like with the release of La Di Da Di we are seeing not just a congregation of three incredible musicians, but a fully formed beast chomping at the bit to push the possibilities of sound, vision and what ‘music’ means. If you don’t believe us just take a look at their latest video for Dot Net.

Opening track The Yabba really sets the tone for the album releasing unto us a manic, pulsating groove that at times seems unstoppable as effected guitars twang with oriental inspiration. It’s a track that builds and builds and just when you think it can’t possibly add anything more to its already dense layer cake, it builds some more. The captivating aspect is the song never seems lost for direction, even while in the depths of the frenzied world it’s created, in fact Battles manage to seamlessly break the song down and integrate it in to the following track Dot Net, that proves to be a groove-laden and tweaked world of it’s own. Keep in mind this has all taken place in the first two tracks.

The energy is palpable from the start and they manage to keep it oozing from every song, an impressive feat with twelve tracks of instrumental madness. If you were looking for comparison, the electronic aspects of their songs are at sometimes reminiscent of Canadian act Holy Fuck, but really Battles are in a league of their own. It’s a band exploring every avenue of sound that presents itself, whether that be grinding and somewhat uncomfortable like in Summer Simmer or short, sweet with an ominous overtone like in Tyne Wear. Whatever you call them, this is a band not afraid to push boundaries.

Album standouts Dot Com and Megatouch showcases how the band really wants each song to inhabit its own universe, a world in which to suck the listener in. There is no doubt Ian Williams (keyboards / guitar) and Dave Konopka (bass, guitar, effects) are having a blast creating the glitchy, melodic and jarring riffs to tamper with your ear holes but props must definitely go to drummer Jon Stanier for creating the rock solid grooves, jazz influenced beats and general backbone for all this madness to take place. Despite each song playing in it’s own distinct world, the album manages to never feel disjointed or confused, in amongst the smorgasbord of sound it feels like there is a clear path the album is on.

It’s as if Battles know that our own transient journeys are bound to get a little strange at some point so they are aiming to provide us with an adept soundtrack. The biggest thing to take away from this album is that you have to actually listen to it and be ready to do so. It’s not something to throw on causally; it will most prove a jarring result. They don’t call it experimental for nothing and if you are willing to be part of the experiment, it is one hell of a result.

Be sure to catch the band when they’re in the country for Laneway next year, not to mention to sneaky headline gigs at on February 10 and 12 at Sydney’s Manning Bar and Melbourne’s Max Watts respectively.