The exit of Battles singer Tyondai Braxton was seen as a devastating body blow by some fans, and with good enough reason. The dog-whistle-voiced frontman was a great live asset, but his departure has clearly encouraged the band to redefine themselves. The recording of Gloss Drop presented the remaining Battles, already accomplished sonic frontiersmen, with an opportunity to explore new and less painfully high-pitched territories with a cast of casual collaborators.
Guest stars comes from all corners of the synthverse, including Chilean eclecto-techno wizard Mathias Aguayo, Yamataka Eye of The Boredoms and Gary Numan, who spooks up the industrial funk of ‘My Machines’ with his trademark Basildon nose-singing. There’s even a stellar turn from Makino of lo-fi indie outfit Blonde Redhead on album standout ‘Sweetie & Shag’.
The results are admirable, if over-stimulating. There are reggae-ish rhythms (‘Futura’), digital prog (‘White Electric’) and even a steel pan/sleigh bell cacophony that doesn’t make you want to murder an elf (‘Inchworm’), all infused with Battles’ trademark jazzy, polyrhythmic, maths-loving melodic sensibilities.