There are few tour announcements that I get as excited about as I do for the group Battles. We receive press releases every day that are announcing tours, concert dates, album releases, etc., and it would be difficult for me to deny that there is a respectable number of incredibly talented musical acts that are still active with new ones popping up every day, but a press release for a new Battles project hits me me like a fucking bat signal. The instant that I found out that the trio would be coming through Seattle again, I cleared that date on my schedule; as I assume is the reaction for many who have witnessed their live shows in the past, I try to make it a point not to miss one in the future. On Wednesday, October 7th, the group returns to Neptune Theatre to promote their brand new full-length release, La Di Da Di, which was just officially released today. This is the exact same venue where I saw them last, 4 years ago, to the week; a performance that has been permanently imprinted into my mind, ever since. So… we’ll definitely be there and recommend that you make sure to catch them yourself whenever they arrive in whatever respective town you live in. For those of you who will, or at least can, be in the Seattle area on the 7th, you’re in luck, because we’re actually going to be giving away a pair of tickets to one of you jokers for free (more details below).
Battles has been together for over a decade, now, although with a minor lineup change — losing the desire to tour and with an urge to pursue his solo work, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Tyondai Braxton amicably parted ways just prior to their previous release, Gloss Drop, hit shelves in 2011. Gloss Drop quickly put an end to any concerns about the loss of Braxton, with the group employing a handful of vocalists — among them, Gary Numan, Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead), and Yamataka Eye (Boredoms) — to contribute their talents to select tracks, reinforcing that one of their greatest strengths has always been adaptation and evolution. La Di Da Di is an entirely instrumental effort that proves once and for all what some of us suspected all along; the vocals were never that vital. With this new album, another inspired effort — the term “propulsive” has often been accurately used to describe their work, and this is no exception — the 3-piece has pushed themselves, yet again, into unknown territory, a place that they seem to feel more comfortable than anywhere else.
If there’s one thing that epitomizes the heart of the band to me as much as anything that symbol would, literally, be a cymbal. John Stanier has a highly recognizable drum set up, primarily due to the crash that is elevated just barely within reach on an extended stand above his kit. Although he has recently explained that the position of the cymbal began as somewhat of a joke that proved to have purpose, the former Helmet and current Tomahawk drummer’s decision to position the crash in such a location has worked to force himself out of the comfort zone of relying on it too much, making him invent new creative ways to utilize his kit. Even his precise, crisp, and minimalist technique and background in hardcore music is somewhat in conflict with the swirls of chaos that are introduced by bandmate, Ian Williams, who performed throughout the nineties in pioneering math-rock/experimental post-rock outfits, Don Caballero and Storm & Stress. It was in Don Cab that Williams first began experimenting with live looping techniques, as a supplement for that group’s second guitarist who left in 1999. Ian has continued to hone his skills in that area, incorporating loops during Battles performances, manning a sequencer, with a guitar on his back, flanked by a pair of tilted keyboards, and a laptop in front of him, simultaneously. Third member, guitarist/bassist, Dave Konopka (Lynx) has a pedal/effects set up that I couldn’t even begin to describe, let alone try to discern how he’s able to get what he does out of it. They all bring something very different and equally vital to the table and Battles thrives on the tension between these three perfectionists’ varied styles, approaches, views, interpretations, and personalities. To create this album, each member worked individually on ideas and sections, eventually bringing them together and allowing their different concepts to be slowly hashed out as they collide and ricochet off of each other. That tension between the utterly chaotic and minimalistic shapes and defines the Battles sound. It’s the blend between the organic and the electronic, never allowing the technology to be used as a crutch, but rather a tool to stack and layer more and more into a track, resulting in something that is both more fluid and complex; this isn’t simple push button simplification, it’s an exploration in new ways for sonic expansion. They build on skeletons of repetition, while successfully avoiding retreading their past works. These auditory saddists enjoy making things difficult on themselves, because, just like that elevated crash, it’s the only way to insure that they will be pushed beyond their muscle memory and comfort zones to venture purely into new territory. Battles indeed.
[CLICK HERE to buy tickets]
THE CONTEST / GIVEAWAY:
*1 Winner will receive a pair of tickets to the following performance :
Netpune Theatre – Seattle, Wa
Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 @ 8pm
HOW TO ENTER
This giveaway will center around BATTLES’ penchant for blending the organic and analog with the digital and futuristic
While one of the group’s defining strengths has always been their incorporation of electronics, all of the members are incredibly proficient instrumentalists and composers — Stanier’s history involves studying orchestral percussion and Williams’s intricate guitar work with Don Caballero speaks for itself. Building on that concept of merging the organic/analog with the futuristic/mechanical, we want you to focus on the idea of what it would be like for your body to possess cybernetic components of its own.
Your job as the entrant is to imagine yourself as a cyborg. If you had to choose at least one part of your body to be switched out with a bionic replacement, what would it be? How would you utilize this new technologically advanced aspect of your anatomy to your advantage? What kind of features would it have? Be as basic, simple, and direct, or as elaborate and over the top as you want in your answer. It’s entirely up to you.
Post your answer in the comment section below.
There is no part 3. That’s all there is to the contest. It’s pretty easy… but you should probably read the fine print.
The Fine Print:
All entries must be received by Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 at 11:59pm to be eligible.
You can enter as many times as you want, but use a valid email so that we can contact you.
If you sign in with Facebook, make sure that your account can accept a message from us.
Winner will be chosen arbitrarily, based on our personal “favorite.”
If you are not sure that you will be able to attend the show, do not enter! You’d be surprised how often that shit happens and we don’t want these going to waste.
If we are unable to contact the winner in a reasonable amount of time, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!