If you aren't aware of Battles by now, it's probably about time you just gave up on the whole 'listening to music as a hobby' thing. The prolific American 4 piece (now reduced to a 3 piece) have built up a name for themselves via their critically-revered 2007 album 'Mirrored', a Honda advert, and their latest record, 'Gloss Drop', which was released last year. And it's this latest musical outpouring that has laid the foundations for the album being reviewed here.
'Dross Glop' isn't an album in the conventional sense of the word; it is in fact a compilation of remixes of the tracks taken from 2011's 'Gloss Drop'. (Just in case the cheeky little spoonerism didn't quite give you a big enough hint.) But as is often the case with remix albums, the bonds that held the songs on the original album together have been worn down, and the flow of the record as a whole is diverted over a more rugged path. It's to be expected from a project that has been worked on by no less than 12 different artists each with their own individual styles, but there are still perhaps some ties that manage keep this album from melting down into a weird, murky brown coloured stew, the strongest being a seemingly futurist attitude towards production style. As a result, 'Dross Glop' is rarely troubled by musical clichés, and the constant switching up of artists and genres allows the record to cover a lot of ground without tiring easily.
Shabazz Palaces' remix of 'White Electric' brings a surly splash of hip-hop to 'Dross Glop', the crashing drums of the original track masterfully replaced with Ishmeal Butler's effortlessly cool vocal delivery, making it feel more like an original piece than a remix. Elsewhere, the Kangding Ray remix of 'Toddler' drowns us in dark, minimal techno, and The Field's hypnotic reworking of 'Sweetie and Shag' take care of the 4/4 side of things. Yet whilst these altogether quite serious and hard-faced sounding pieces of music are very much enjoyable to listen to, 'Dross Glop' shines brightest when it's at its most carefree and least impenetrable; when it's retaining the unique sense of wackiness that has made Battles themselves the unique and successful band they are now.
So, who better to enlist for achieving wonky madness than Glaswegian producer, Hudson Mohawke? His adaptation of 'Rolls Bayce' throws a big bright bucket of tropical paint over thundering beats, and to the untrained ear it may well just seem little more than a mess. But for those with an open mind, who know what they're looking for, there's a magnificent polychrome uproar to be devoured and, most importantly, danced to! The album further revels in goofiness through Gang Gang Dance's disjointed, bunny hopping remix of 'Ice Cream' and perhaps more surprisingly, Kode9's take on 'Africastle', which isn't the eyes-down, stomach churning, dungeon-dubstep you might expect from the owner of the Hyperdub label. Instead, we're treated to a 7 minute-long slice of UK Funky infused, get-up-and-move goodness, whistles and bells included.
Certainly, 'Dross Glop' isn't without its lulls, and on occasion, it edges dangerously close to taking itself a little too seriously. But tactfully placed packages of silliness dissolve the record's ego, and perhaps most importantly, force you out of your seat.
Posted: Tue 1 May 2012