Battles: La Di Da Di

Music Reviews
Battles: La Di Da Di

From the opening moments of “The Yabba,” the first track from Battles’ third studio LP La Di Da Di, a kind of tribal bemusement rears its digital maw. Bedazzled by a crescendo of reversed, looped blips, sleigh bells and the persistence of some unknown looming catharsis, “The Yabba” unfolds like a hard-drive nightmare and blooms suddenly into a pixelated psychedelic wonderland. It’s a sign of things to come on the tech-themed La Di Da Di, and a highly listenable mishmash of weirdness that only Battles could have dreamed up.

The group now functions without a vocalist, and the malleability and experimentation of guitarist/bassist/noise-meister Dave Konopka and drummer John Stanier once again flank Ian Williams’ technical mastery. In compositions readymade for bumper music, video games, commercials for shiny tech things, the soundtrack to a motherboard’s biopic and other flexible uses, La Di Da Di is a unique listen, giving large responsibility to the listener to determine or interpret the parameters of its far-reaching sonic liberties. Songs like “Dot Net” and “Dot Com” seem to want to at least on some level steer you toward the likelihood of an aural commentary yearning to be derived from its instrumental catacombs. Whether or not this is accurate is inconsequential, as both of these songs exist in that nebulous realm where perceived intent and reception may never collide.

The choose-your-own-adventure aspect of Battles’ music is its most endearing accolade. Unflinchingly catchy instrumentals like “Non-Violence” enhance the fun, and borrow from electronic forefathers like Gary Numan (who the band has worked with in the past), Devo and the dancier elements of Nine Inch Nails in equal measure. But that’s not all: there’s Parliament Funkadelic-like rhythmic stew in “Summer Simmer” and hip-hop hints in bangers like “Tyne Wear.”

However you decipher the 1s and 0s, the songs comprising La Di Da Di are timeless vestiges of sound, and by that virtue alone are going to be around for a long time. The fact that they just so happen to be timeless vestiges of sound that are exceedingly pleasing to listen to is icing on the cake for all of mankind, and probably some of robotkind, too.

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