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Battle Ax

With the release of its latest album, Mirrored, Battles has proven unequivocally that it´s possible for noise-rock to have a heartbeat. And what a heartbeat it has. Driven by the percussive attack of ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier (whose mile-high cymbal setup is on must-see-it-to-believe-it status), Battles´ music careens around head-snapping tempo changes and off-measure explosions with a fluid ease that´s weirdly accessible if completely undanceable. Mirrored also proves that it´s possible for largely nonvocal music to make a commercial impact; the disc cracked the top 100 upon its U.K. release. Although its star power is now bright only among in-the-know indie kids (in addition to Stanier, the group also claims former members of Don Caballero and Lynx as well as, er, Anthony Braxton´s kid on its roster), its current tour is likely to turn the dimmer switch up a bit. This is a group whose energy on disc is palpable; live, however, it´s a gale-force attack. Each of the musicians is dedicated to squeezing maximum impact out of his rigs, and though one may become exhausted just watching Stanier destroy his kit, the devilishly deconstructionist approach the other members take is invigorating enough to keep a listener electrified for days.
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Jason Ferguson

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