Battles - La Di Da Di

Posted by vibrations on 28-09-15

Four years was always considered to be a long time between albums. Stone Roses set a precedent for that sort of thing. But one of the things I remember about watching Battles play about six years ago was John Stanier signing off after four songs with the line “and for our last song… packing up our equipment.”

It had taken them about 20 minutes to set up.

Battles take their time.

Besides, with Tyondai Braxton leaving the year before Gloss Drop was released, you can imagine they’ve had a bit to think about. But after 4 years of consideration, here comes La Di Da Di, and it’s definitely Battles… but not quite the full conflict. More a policing action.

‘Cacio e Pepe’ starts things off gently, a plinky plonky electronic track with a booming drum off somewhere and a long drawn out distorted guitar. Math from another time, sounding a bit broken, like an old forgotten toy, dusted and brought out to see if it works. John Stanier’s huge drum sound makes an appearance on ‘Dot Not’, another staccato track that riffs on the Aphex Twin, Orbital and the Egg. There just seems to be a bit missing, some kind of erratic vocal line or other to just push it over into the absurd, but this is pure instrumental… maybe it’s karaoke for a psychotic episode.

‘Luu Le’ has a more experimental slant to it, the Battles of old, with Ian and Dave making Stanier work hard at his kit with a faux martial line that morphs into a more South African sound, before putting the hammer down, cantering and looping, burying the original riff in the chaos. It feels like the first whole song on the album, but is followed up quickly by another whole piece, ‘Mega Touch’, a gloriously 8-bit number that sounds like the soundtrack from a ghost level in some Mario game that ends up jazzing out for the last lap.

Despite this rise in the middle, ‘Summer Simmer’ comes out with the feeling of lack again, regardless of the proggy feel, the slight oddness and solid groove. It’s reminiscent of ‘Ice Cream’, which is probably why it feels a bit lack. ‘Tricentenial’ gets back into it, with Stanier throwing in some wild rhythms to mass of discordance – it’s like a trippier version of the Dr Who theme. Which is no bad thing.

After the brief interlude of ‘Tyne Wear’, basically bass, we hit the final track, ‘The Yabba’, a slow ambient piece that swings through wild time signatures into frantic mayhem, through erratic busyness to frantic nothing… it kinda messes with the mind then leaves.

And that’s that, a bit hit and miss, mainly hit, but after four years feels a bit rushed – could have done with a bit of vocal, just to really weird things out. That’s what it needs. More weirding. Maybe give it five years… maybe six.

Rob Wright




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