The Music Videos of Battles
Battles will make you dance, but not really the style of dance you want anyone to see. Battles dancing is uncontrollable and awkward, you can’t help but lose yourself and freak out to the almost off-beat melodies; seemingly endless loops played over jangly synth lines and guitar riffs with some of the most incredible drumming out there right now.
Battles is a super-group currently formed of three members from various different bands: Dave Konopka from the math-rock band Lynx, Ian Williams from the instrumental group Don Caballero, and John Stanier from the alternative metal band Helmet. The group’s first album features vocals from Tyondai Braxton.
Not only does Battles consistently put out mind-warping music, they collaborate with some of the most interesting contemporary visual artists to film their music videos. Their clips are fresh and unique, spanning everything from a story about a girl eating ice cream all the way to a marathon 11-hour performance in the bottom of an abandoned slate mine.
Ice Cream. 2011.
Ice Cream is the first single off their latest release, titled Gloss Drop. It features vocals from the techno producer Matias Aguayo. This is without a doubt my favorite music video I have ever seen. It is an epileptic fit of bizarre images that, from what I interpret, are supposed to represent what it’s like to eat ice cream. It is directed by the group Canada. One of the coolest pieces of cinematography I have ever seen starts at 3:42 in the video.
My Machines. 2011.
My Machines is the most recent video, from the album Gloss Drop. The track features electronic music legend Gary Numan on vocals. The video is directed by the creative collective Daniels. It features one of the more disturbing things that could ever happen on an escalator. The L.A. Times is calling it a contender for best video of the year. Oh, Gary Numan is in it too. Which should be enough for anyone.
Atlas is the first single from Battles’ first album, Mirrored. The track features the warped wah-wah pedal vocals of Tyondai Braxton. It is directed by the photographer Timothy Saccenti, and a still-photo from the video was featured on the cover of Mirrored. The video depicts the band floating in some astral box of mirrors while performing the song. It is heavy on the psychedelia, and the track itself really catches you off guard and sucks you in.
Tonto appears on the album Mirrored. I have mentioned this video in an old Wet Paint post on the United Visual Artists. The UVA collaborated with Battles on building a lighting set-up to be used in an abandoned slate mine in England. Battles then performed for 11 hours among all of the lights and a video was made. Epic.
Wall Street. Live. 2011.
I couldn’t write a post on Battles without covering their live performances. One of the most impressive sets I have ever seen live, and I highly recommend it to anyone. This video was filmed by the brilliant website La Blogotheque. La Blogotheque films take-away shows and posts them for free. They are always gorgeous and intriguing to watch. This is Battles performing in a rococo salon at the Hotel de Ville in Paris. It beautifully shows the band building their massive wall of sound.