Friday, June 08, 2007

Battles -- MirroredYou aren't popular with girls!

Do you know that James L. Brooks line? The one about "the Simpsons theme"?

No? OK, well some us couldn’t get a date in High School. Lay off.

You aren't popular with girls!Story goes that executives from FOX are standing around listening to music for the first episode of the Simpsons and no one likes Dan Elfman’s theme: no warm, memorable easy-to-sing-along-too words ala Cheers, a weird tempo that’s jaunty and sweeping at once—ratings poison, right? So they’re getting ready to ax it and in walks Brooks and he goes, "Oh my god! This is great. It’s like lemmings-marching-to-their-death music." And so they stick with it.

Underground electronica rockers Battles make lemmings-marching-to-their-death music. It’s not the dense, dour prog of black-clad Germans. It’s buoyant, dashing math rock for Xbox addicts and the pedal-obsessed space-rock faction of the Lollipop Guild.

Click through for awesomenessMaybe that sounds terrible to you. Be warned, the potential annoyance factor here is pretty high. If the idea of Can or Tangerine Dream covering "the theme from the Smurfs" horrifies you more than it fascinates you (which admittedly it should), then this record might be "too hot for your chinchilla".

The vocals are all filtered yelps and keening nonsense—no actual words anyone seems able to pull out. They seem incidental and absurd until you get to the final moments of "Rainbow," when singer Tyondai Braxton finally sounds like a human, even if he still isn’t singing a single real word. It’s oddly touching, one of many little ghosts in the machine.

Raised by fairies, obvs.My passing, uninformed opinion of Bjork and the people who make music to rip-off and/or impress Bjork is they aren’t enjoying themselves these days, like they feel they’ve evolved past it. To quote an old SM t-shirt. "Fuck Art, Let’s Dance." If there’s a place on your hard drive for the crushing beauty of Sigur Ros or paranoid builds of Godspeed, You Black Emperor, then maybe there’s a spot for this record.

It’s experimental music that’s pulling listeners in, instead of shutting them out. Raymond Scott, the unsung genius of Warner Brothers cartoon soundtracks and an early electronic instrument pioneer, would be proud.

Rating: 3/5

-Dmitri Jr.

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