tue 21/05/2024

Battles at Warp Records 20th Birthday, Coronet | reviews, news & interviews

Battles at Warp Records 20th Birthday, Coronet

Battles at Warp Records 20th Birthday, Coronet

Jamming at Warp Records 20th Birthday

Battles: Stretched, pulled and morphed

Everybody needs a daddy and the paternal focus of Battles is their drummer - nothing seems to be done without the say of John Stanier. This is no bad thing, a lynch pin is needed in every rag-tag mob. With Battles, last night, they seemed extremely comfortable in airing new material and, for the first time, fucking with their tried and true older material. Every other time they've played they've played by rote; as on the album as is on stage.

Last night they elongated and morphed "Atlas" from their first and only album proper "Mirrors" and it felt like it was being played like Coney Island Taffy, stretched, pulled and morphed into something completely different.

On the one hand, the hand I clapped with, it's an interesting and effective deviation; it allows us into the boudoir of Battles. We see the process. I liked it. On the other hand, the hand I wrapped around my beer, it felt like they were going through the motions of a jam. The first two songs were heavier, sparse and pulled taut in the pauses. They didn't sound like Battles. It sounded like a version of the band being waterboarded: slightly muffled, languidly spastic and familiar only because we know it so well. They were remixing their own song and I wondered if this was a live jam. 

There's a lot to be said for a band who have spent the past five years honing their particulars to a ripe and meticulous degree and then, at the 20th birthday party of the label that made them, Warp Records, in front of an audience that actively wants them, they go and have a garage jam in front of us.

Watching them play like that was insightful; it showed you the dynamics between the band members. Last night Daddy was Stanier. They all watched him. Each member's contribution is tightly controlled and compact, as is evident with even a cursory listen to any of their music, but with this uncustomary jam we were seeing something very different and, suddenly, the family was apparent.

If they carry on being as forthright in their conviction and beautifully wrought repetition and staccato as they have been so far, I'll forgive them a genuine jam. They played it for us because they trusted the Warp audience, they trusted the people who made it possible for them to be there, up on that stage. Daddy was looking on and he approved.


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