Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #42 Battles
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
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As electronic music inevitably infuses and ingrains itself into rock and roll, there is no other band that so masterfully harnesses the power of technology as Battles. With a stage setup crammed with more gear than a Guitar Center blowout sale, Battles seamlessly incorporates tweaked out vocals and jittery guitar tapping, with disjointed robotic harmonies and pounding polyrhythms. Amid a universe of samplers, synthesizers, laptops and stomp boxes, these guys take us on a roller coaster ride from the heights of mathematical post-rock to the depths of experimental fusion. Battles is one of those rare bands that grabs your attention from the moment you hear them. “What is this?” you ask yourself. “I don’t know but I love it!” is the answer. Utilizing every gadget they can get their hands on, these guys have cultivated a bold, fearless new sound that is truly innovative in its sophistication.
Formed in New York City in 2003, Battles boasts a star-studded cast of veteran players and familiar faces. Drummer John Stanier first found his way into the limelight as the drummer for Helmet, and more recently as the pulse behind Mike Patton’s Tomahawk. Guitarist and vocal alchemist, Tyondai Braxton is the son of legendary Avant-garde composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, a regular fixture of NY’s infamous experimental downtown music scene. Rounding out the ranks are guitarist and keyboardist Ian Williams formerly of math-rock pioneers Don Caballero, and ex-Lynx guitarist Dave Konopka on bass and effects.
As unpredictable as it is slick, such a challenging new sound defies comparison. The gorgeous interplay of clean, crisp guitars asserts the underlying influence of classic post-punk bands such as Fugazi, while the bizarre melodic structures and angular guitar tapping bring across a playfulness reminiscent of Primus. The insatiable complexity evokes elements of John Zorn and Mr. Bungle. Tyondai’s indecipherable vocal experimentations liberate the voice from words and lyrics to the uncharted realms of voice as instrument.
In February of 2006 Battles released their debut for Warp Records entitled EP C / B EP, a compilation of rare singles, and their critically acclaimed full-length album Mirrored was released in May of 2007.
Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.