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Battles: EP C

Battles: EP C

Label:Monitor Records

By Marc Masters | Posted 7/28/2004

Battles, the new concern of ex-Don Caballero guitarist Ian Williams, retains some of his former band’s traits: math-rock guitar lines, jazzed rhythms, and an extreme devotion to repetition. But EP C differs from Don Cab records in its sheer spaciness. It’s as if Williams cut open his songs and pulled out all the guts, filling their corpses with helium and launching them skyward. As far out as Don Cab could fly, the band usually grounded its adept wankery with chunky guitar chords, but Battles’ music is all dots and points, minimalist sprinklings strung together like stars hung on constellations.

The result, though, is just as intoxicating as Williams’ former pursuits. He and co-string strikers Tyondai Braxton and Dave Konopka are agile sound generators, their leapfrogging interplay forging a core of sparkling hypnosis in each of EP C’s five tracks. The trio nearly gets swallowed by its own black hole on “UW,” a collection of blips that sounds like a decades-old NASA transmission. But tunes such as the Steve Reichian “B+T” and the glittering “Hi/Lo” demonstrate the power of Williams’ patented formula: a simple guitar line looped into infinity, then layered with small accents and sharpened beats (here from ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier) but never abandoned. When EP C winds down with the scratchy “Tras 2,” the background flourishes overwhelm the loop until all that’s left is Stanier’s pulsing kit, shooting calmly off into space.

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