Battles - Academy 2
Live Review

Battles – Academy 2, Manchester

For Warp Records enthusiasts, tonight is something of a banquet with two of their most talked about artists, Prefuse 73 and Battles, flying the flag for the groundbreaking label. Dirty Projectors, however, are an unknown quantity.

Happily, they sound like an angel getting twatted and bundled heavy handedly down a spiral staircase as their vocal harmonies shine above. At times, the drummer hits the skins with a tambourine as his beats jostle with the angular melody. If you could imagine Field Music or Hot Club de Paris mixed with Hella, but much more disjointed and freaky, then you wouldn’t be far wrong. Lead singer, Dave Longstreth, asks if he can play one last tune before they launch into their harmonically logarithmic finale. Like Fourtet on a Fender, they blast out a rhythmical brand of inverted-funk that rocks so hard, it almost judders itself to pieces. Shortly afterwards, my friend is forced to return home for a massive wank.

There are seconds of Radiophonic Workshop-like noise until the mire is broken in half by what sounds to me like Concorde simultaneously breaking the sound barrier and firing a canon. Shortly afterwards, my friend is forced to return home for a new pair of trousers and a wank. Prefuse 73 spit up perfectly formed jazz mistakes, operating menacingly above a dark hip hop pulse. Screamed at your eyes. Until you bleed. As the low end caves in on itself and samples distract your minds eye from the felonious beats, you are hypnotised by the sheer vastness of the noise. Prefuse 73 incorporate the deceptive beats of cLOUDDEAD with the mind-blowing density of sound and pure intensity of Mogwai, in a genre that lies somewhere between post rock and hip hop. This is post-hop.

The first thing you notice, as the lights go down for Battles, is the fucking massively tall drum symbol. Alone on the stage, Dave Konopka tears a mountain shattering sound using sampling and manipulation. As the others enter and begin to add their layers upon layers, the air seems to be fighting with itself keep hold of the beat. This is post-rock, post-Hebdon, post end of the fucking world. Drummer, John Stanier, engineers a complex pulse; glitches warp into songs; samples bleed into a beat and then join the ranks and ranks of marching noise. In what, at times, sounds like R2D2 getting roughly manhandled by uncle C3PO, they blast through numbers such as ‘Tonto’ and ‘Rainbow’ from the recently acclaimed album, Mirrored. The killer ‘Atlas’ builds and shakes before cracking like a disco earth quake, as churches crumble and collapse while the priest jerks his body to the beat. Shortly afterwards, my friend has to return home for a lie down, a codeine and a wank. They remind me, at times, of the Rapture, but on an industrial scale, like a thunderous domino trail in Stone Henge. Their tunes do exactly what they say on the tin. Provided that the tin says ‘Extra Special Calculator Noise-Sauce’.

Tonight has been like the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Utterly, utterly confusing but somehow life changing. Epic is an overused word, as is the phrase ‘gig of the year’. At this point, I’m looking for some kind of smart mouth comment, possibly about Larry Mullen Jnr or otters, but I’m incapable. Battles have smashed my head a foot to the left. Tonight, we witnessed Jazz beating the audience to within an inch of its collective life. This epic night really was the gig of the year.

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