la di da di

Battles’ ‘La Di Da Di’ hails the motherloop in a dizzying spectacle

Close your eyes. Stand on the spot and spin in a circle really fast. Stop. Look up at the sky. Open them…

You’re one step closer to the feeling of listening to Battles’ latest album, La Di Da Di. As a follow up to 2011’s Gloss Drop, it is a much-anticipated tornado of sound that’ll lift you right off your feet. The intricately woven compositions that launched the band to fame are alive and well, and more than ever before, celebrated with this release. From opening track and single Yabba, it is a venture into the cyclical nature of rhythm. Each track is driven by signature Battles loops, maintaining order beneath the freedom and havoc wreaked in the foreground.

The video released to coincide with the single explores these themes, with a Jodorowsky-esque homage to that fourth band member; as drummer John Stanier describes it, the “motherloop.” Circles reign supreme in a dizzying spectacle.

From there we descend further into layers of sound. The pace jolts forward, with FF Bada opening on a searing guitar sequence. Colours flash by, and at times it becomes hard to distinguish the composition of the mosaic. But, with guitars that sound like keys and keys that sound like guitars, it’s easier to just let it wash over you. Eventually you are lulled into a strange meditative state, where track names and lengths and definitions are irrelevant. By the eerily oriental chimes of Summer Simmer, you’re strapped in to the rollercoaster. And there is no way out until it’s over.

Dot Com stands out as one of the most accessible tracks, with a catchy and playful hook, complete with anthemic guitars and racing drums. Stacked up against the monolithic Luu Le, the simplicity is a reminder that Battles can operate at both ends of the spectrum. Unlike many other bands that fall into the progressive/math rock genre, they don’t shy away from a short number. Almost every track clocks in under five minutes, and there is no stretching out the gauze to cover brittle and sparse melodies. It’s high intensity every blistering step of the way.

It is the first Battles album that has no vocals at all, but the impact is null and void. On previous efforts, the voice acted as an additional instrument, used sparingly on select tracks. The absence is a step forward in the band’s growth as a trio, allowing them to explore each track to its edge. At worst it’s indiscernible, at best it’s liberating. There is certainly no sense of a missing ingredient.

In a recent interview, guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams commented that there is no hidden meaning to Battles music:

The meaning is in the sound. The meaning isn’t always necessarily a deeper thing than that. A strip of white paint sometimes is just white paint. It doesn’t mean it’s a picture of snow. Not all our songs are representations of things, and that’s especially true on this album.

With that in mind, it is rare for a band to craft sound for sounds sake, free from emotional weight, and for the results to be so deftly moving anyway.

This one is going straight to my top albums of 2015. All hail the motherloop.

Out today, get it now.