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Album Review

Battles: Mirrored
Warp Records
Recorded by Keith Souza at Machines With Magnets
Assistant Engineering by Mike Viele and Seth Manchester
Mixed by Keith Souza and Battles
Mastered by Jeff Lipton and Jessica Thompson at Peerless Mastering

3 out of 5 mics

This is a very interesting album, to say the least. Mirrored has been pretty highly touted by a lot of the hip music press and even hip-er online zines. Battles have a unique sound, and they're doing things on Mirrored that don't sound like every band that every kid in Williamsburg listens to. This is because they are unbelievably talented musicians.

John Stanier (of Helmet, Tomahawk) is one of the best drummers around. His great playing with both aformentioned bands seems like child's play compared to his performances on Mirrored. If it wasn't for Stanier's ability behind the kit this album would fall on its face. The music is certainly difficult stuff, the songs well arranged, and the sounds are uncommon. But the music is driven by and held together by Stanier's precision and determination. With a mediocre drummer, or even one with a different style, the songs would not work.

Certainly much of the credit for the sound and direction of the album goes to Tyondai Braxton. Braxton has worked with many experimental and avante-garde musicians. Mirrored is Braxton's most successfully realized work yet. He lends his completely tweaked vocals to the songs, as well as some serious keyboard and guitar work.

Ian Williams, formerly of Don Caballero (who 16 years ago helped to create the path down which Battles now tread) brings the needed guitar skills, and Dave Konopka plays both guitar and bass.

Recorded and mixed by Keith Souza with mixing help from Battles, the album is very polished and shiny like, well... a mirror. The sound is quite cold and "digital". Not harsh sounding, but rather impersonal. Jeff Lipton and Jessica Thompson at Peerless mastering make this cold, shiny music sound like it emanates from somewhere in front of the speakers. None of the steely edge is taken off of the sound.