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Battles @ The Henry Fonda, 10/30/07

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I have an interesting story involving Battles, New York's new experimental tech-rock sensations. It was March of this year, and I had traveled to Europe to film a project that I had been working on. My travel cohort and I made a stop in Amsterdam, where I decided that it would be a great idea to combine various hallucinogens that the city had to legally offer. I'm a relatively tranquil individual, so I naturally assumed I'd have a great time. Not so. I basically had a 6 hour panic attack largely defined by hearing grinding noises that disturbed me long after I came down. A week later we traveled to Italy where I was filming my project. As we were getting ready to hit the clubs, I notice the video Atlas by Battles (vid after the jump) playing on MTV Europe, and I immediately freaked out. All of the sounds produced in the song reflected exactly what I was hearing throughout my trip, and I had never even heard it before. At first, I was frightened. Had my mind manifested an idea of what the future of music might hold? Probably not, but ever since that experience, I have been fascinated with Battles.

The fact that Battles were playing at Vegoose was one of the main reasons I wanted to go, even though they were the first to play at 1pm on Saturday. While they performed a great set, I knew their sound would be completely different when played indoors, which is precisely why I wanted to see them for the second time in 3 days. I didn't purchase tickets before the show because I assumed the group was still relatively unknown. We got there just 10 minutes before the band went on, and even though they closed off the mezzanine area, the pit was pretty much packed.

It was pretty funny watching the crowd during the Battles set because its complicated music to get in to. Sure, the band is characterized by strong drum beats and alien-like sound effects, but the music stops on a dime at times and picks up with an entirely different tempo. Those who weren't moving were hypotized by simply watching the band perform. The way they compile the sounds is incredibly engaging, using drum machines and amp tricks that create layers and layers of cohesive sound. The bands quirkiness is further typified by crazy voice effects, not to mention the drummer's high hat cymbal being raised about 3-4 feet above the drummer. In the end, seeing Battles at Vegoose had a slight edge over the Henry Fonda since the sound effects seemed oversaturated in the enclosed space. So if you're down to foray into the world of experimental music, Battles is a sound that embodies that of a cyberpunk sci-fi film; a robotic orchestra grounded in addictive monotony combined with electro-symphonic flair.

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Video courtesy of YouTube, photo courtesy of Battles official website.