Battles is a breed of rock band unto itself, sounding arguably like no one else out there. Taking cues from math rock's complexity, Krautrock's repetition, electronica's unlimited sampledelic potential, and the avant-garde's penchant for heresy, they have compiled a collection of their two five-song EPs here that virtually defies description. Made up of a couple-few versions of the same piece a couple times over, all obliquely named and sounding nothing like each other, these are not merely remixes, and they form a cohesive whole. There is "IPT 2" and "Ipt-2." There are "SZ2," "B+T" and "UW." And "Tras 2 & 3" are included, but not the original "Tras," available on its own EP/single. Some tracks like "UW" and "BTTLS" meander aimlessly, but the majority, including "B+T" and "Tras 2," succeed in capturing a sublime groove among the crazy clutter. A highlight, and the definition of the Battles
ethos is "Hi/Lo," a lumbering mix of live drums, keyboard bleeps and a reluctant syncopation between synth bass and the stringed variety, culminating in a free jazz guitar freak-out. "SZ2" begins with intertwined guitar lines and what sounds like sleigh bells until a distorted bass and some synthetic brass drop a frenetic off-timed riff, then the whole song inverts itself into a free-funk spazz-out. "Dance," the only conventionally titled track, appears to use samples of vocal whispers and glottal stops to mesh with live drums and create a rhythm briefly waiting for its eventual Fripp
-ian guitar scronks to scream through. At least that's what it sounds like, but who knows? Battles blurs the distinction between "organic" and "electronic," and hopefully that's the point. An aficionado of all esoteric music would wait with baited breath to see what the long-awaited Warp release will sound like.