There’s something intriguing about how BATTLES operates as a band. They typically pop up with new material every three years, they tour and then they disappear. One of the most innovative acts to sit on the roster at Warp Records, they’ve allured us with every album they’ve dropped since they began. On their new release Juice B Crypts they take their technical proficiency to a new level while adding a fun atmosphere loaded with guest spots.
The collabs here are just a small sampling of what the tradition of Battles brings on this album. The way the eleven tracks sound almost completely different here shouldn’t be alarming, nor should the fact that the band is now just a two piece. What’s present is a band in the moment, pushing the boundaries while still staying firmly planted in the now. The opening song “Ambulance” is about as close to the band’s past as you’re going to get here, and that’s okay. In fact it’s welcomed to hear that the band is continuously moving forward. The loops and live drums are unmistakably that Battles sound, and it just draws you in as you’d expect.
The harmonics on “A Loop So Nice….” take you down a joyous path while “They Played It Twice”featuring Xenia Rubinos brings you back to the chaos the band is known to hone in on. The instrumentation here is extraordinary while the vocals dance like something from a Renaissance painting. “Fort Greene Park” has this opening that almost mimics a chip tune sound before the guitar comes in and blows that notion away. “Hiro 3” has an almost dystopian tone that steers you into a dark frenzy without losing your mind. There’s just a lot here. The band treads a new path with new methods of sequencing and arrangements where the tracks aren’t as cluttered while still having heavy layering.
But with all this the album contains two stand outs that stay with you and keep the sorcery of the band’s history alive and strong. The first comes with “Titanium 2 Step” featuring Sal Principato of New York no wave band Liquid Liquid. Principato’s voice dances between the heavy drumming and the intermingling of keys and guitar. Much like a ballerina in his precision, it just works on multiple levels to the degree that you want more of it. The second comes with “IZM” featuring Shabazz Palaces. The track features some of the most innovative instrumentation of the record, and the bars brought from the hip hop group give the song a weight that cannot be denied. These are the examples of Battles that cannot be replicated and even with a two song collaboration from Tune-Yards, Juice B Crypts proves that Battles will always amaze us.
Juice B Crypts is available to stream on all platforms or purchase digitally in all online music stores. It is also available for physical purchase directly from Warp Records on various formats. BATTLES is on tour beginning October 22 in Lisbon, Portugal at Music Box until December 11 in Boston, MA at Brighton Music Hall. The band’s complete tour schedule can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Atiba Jefferson.