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Review of Battles, etc in Vicar Street
Last Post 06 Jun 2008 03:10 AM by MarkO. 37 Replies.
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QuintUser is Offline
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Ken Fallon

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20 May 2008 04:27 AM
How come the rabid fanboys didn't have a go at me when I wrote a mostly negative review of Battles gig at Tripod here last year?? That's not fair! I'm jealous!

anyway, here it is...


http://www.cluas.com/indie-music/Default.aspx?tabid=96&EntryID=377


For the record, I was well aware of their music beforehand as I actually bought the album on the back of 'Atlas' but I was quite disappointed that the rest of the album didn't live up to that great track. Technically, they're incredible musicians, esp Stanier, but I find them cold, mechanical and, ultimately, pointless.



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Anna Murray

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20 May 2008 04:48 AM
Of course Daragh is entitled to his opinion: that's what a review is.

On a related matter, I recently received a rather...unpleasant, almost abusive, email from somebody (who shall remain nameless) I critised in a review. As if I didn't think they were unprofessional before...

Are people so lulled in security by the blanket enthusiasm of the present media (in particular in relation to new Irish bands) that they don't expect criticism of any kind, which let's face, is part of the parcel of getting your stuff out there, whether music or writing or facepainting...or are musicians just enormous egotists all round who think they're above criticism?
Rev JulesUser is Offline
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Rev Jules

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20 May 2008 05:05 AM
Actually I thought Daragh was being fair, Battles = Hello we just bought a drum machine, now if we can only work out how to turn it on.

This year's nominee for the 'this is my fav band at the moment, but i am tone deaf' brigade?
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dermot_trellis

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20 May 2008 05:18 AM
I don't think the main issue is that the review was negative.. it's more about the content and style of his review. I don't like the band either but I thought that the tone of the review conveyed the impression that he was the wrong person to send to the gig, i.e. this just isn't his type of music at all, so there's no way his review would be anything other than bemused\baffled..
AllyUser is Offline
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Ally

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20 May 2008 05:32 AM
Posted By Rev Jules on 20 May 2008 7:05 AM
Actually I thought Daragh was being fair, Battles = Hello we just bought a drum machine, now if we can only work out how to turn it on.

This year's nominee for the 'this is my fav band at the moment, but i am tone deaf' brigade?




who's completely misrepresenting them now?....

Posted By dermot_trellis on 20 May 2008 7:18 AM
i.e. this just isn't his type of music at all, so there's no way his review would be anything other than bemused\baffled..




this is true...
Idiot KidUser is Offline
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Steven O'Rourke

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20 May 2008 05:56 AM
Posted By dermot_trellis on 20 May 2008 7:18 AM
I thought that the tone of the review conveyed the impression that he was the wrong person to send to the gig, i.e. this just isn't his type of music at all, so there's no way his review would be anything other than bemused\baffled..


And only sending people who already like a band/genre won't lead to nothing but positive reviews?

Anyway, it's a moot point as we don't 'send' people to gigs. People volunteer their own free time and it's not for CLUAS to tell someone they can't review a gig because we don't like their opinion. That's the point I tried to make in my blog yesterday:

http://www.cluas.com/indie-music/Default.aspx?tabid=93&EntryID=626

We are an independent website and our reviews highlight that.

Idiot KidUser is Offline
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Steven O'Rourke

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20 May 2008 06:28 AM
Posted By Archie on 20 May 2008 6:48 AM


On a related matter, I recently received a rather...unpleasant, almost abusive, email from somebody (who shall remain nameless) I critised in a review. As if I didn't think they were unprofessional before...





Ooh I've gotten a few of those, that's what the report spam button is for. Having to justify a review is tedious, it's as like asking someone to justify why their favourite colour is red/blue/ocean.
Rev JulesUser is Offline
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Rev Jules

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20 May 2008 07:46 AM
My brother's Harley makes a more musical sound that Battles, by a long shot
BinokularUser is Offline
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Binokular

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20 May 2008 08:02 AM
Well, I looked up this Battles lot on Youtube and... er....

meh...

Now someone will probably point out that I need to take a deeper listen, but theres so much out there that musics like speed dating these days, 5 minutes, gotta make an impression, tough, but thems the breaks (no pun intended).

I like what they're attempting to do, that whole real time processing/sampling idea, but its one thing to have an idea, its another to get it to work. Despite all the hype, this really isn't a new idea, just that the technology available to bands is getting better, you have excellent software packages out there these days like Abelton Live where the distinction between recording/sampling/looping and live performance gets increasingly blurred. You no longer have to go down the Menomena route of coding your own software to do this sort of thing.

As for the music itself, I listened to two tracks, "Atlas" and "Tonto" and I gotta say the vocals really get on my wick. I'm well used to processed vocals, but how anyone can reckon they sound good on "Atlas" is beyond me, up there with Chers crimes against autotune. For all the talk of innovative beats and stuff, I was surprised to find Atlas actually sounds like fairly straight up Glam Rock, I was almost expecting Suzi Quattro to jump out and start into "Can the Can" which actually is no bad thing, but then its ruined by THAT stupid chipmunk vocal. The tone and texture isn't simply whats annoying but the way it slavishly locks into the beat with no real personality of or expression of its own. "Tonto" has much the same issue, starts out all minimal and interesting then the vocal ruins it along with the pointless guitar noodling.

I notice that they're signed to Warp Records, the same label that brought us Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, almost 20 years ago now, who started out good but progressively disappeared up their own arse. Viewed in that light, not much has really moved on has it?

So thats my ill-informed, half baked opinion of the band based on a couple of yootoob clips.

Flame away.
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Daragh Murray

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20 May 2008 10:57 AM
just for the record, i did get the album (as a present ) before the gig, so wasnt completely unprepared, and I wanted to see them to judge them for myself, and to see the red neck manifesto again, cos its been a long time.

Ally, you might be right about not liking the "anti-music" element, but to be honest i like a lot of stuff with pretty mental beats, i think the problem is that if it doesnt work (or doesnt work for me...) then it is very easy just to become lost. Actually, i agree with Binokular completely on that one, theres no personality or individual expression to it.
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Ally

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20 May 2008 11:05 PM
i'll go as far as slightly agreeing with those that called the music 'cold'... i can see that sometimes...

...binokular, i think atlas is the least interesting of their tracks... when i finally heard it, it was a disappointment... i think tonto is much better... rainbow is possibly my favourite on the album...

the chipmunk vocals - yeah... not initially a fan... learned to love them but it took a while...

all in all, the thing that surprised me most was how popular they became... they must be tuning in to something because they have far surpassed the usual experimental crowd that they first appealed to...
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Binokular

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20 May 2008 11:30 PM
I think what battles need most is discipline. Anyone who's mucked about with a softsynth such as Reason knows you can pitch the and detune and distort a sound (e.g. a vocal) as much as you like, that doesn't mean you should. Take a listen to Schneider TMs last album "Skoda Mluvit", totally different sort record of course, but the vocals are very heavily processed but in a way that actually enhances their warmth and adds character.

I get the feeling they're still distracted by their toys. It's one thing to attempt to find the music within the machine, like the way you can take few notes on a synth and then quite by accident create something complex due the harmonics created by certain effects (you can even hear this sort of thing 70s Who records), it's another just to throw everything in your sonic arsenal into every tune.
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Ally

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21 May 2008 12:40 AM
Posted By Binokular on 21 May 2008 1:30 AM
I think what battles need most is discipline. Anyone who's mucked about with a softsynth such as Reason knows you can pitch the and detune and distort a sound (e.g. a vocal) as much as you like, that doesn't mean you should. Take a listen to Schneider TMs last album "Skoda Mluvit", totally different sort record of course, but the vocals are very heavily processed but in a way that actually enhances their warmth and adds character.

I get the feeling they're still distracted by their toys. It's one thing to attempt to find the music within the machine, like the way you can take few notes on a synth and then quite by accident create something complex due the harmonics created by certain effects (you can even hear this sort of thing 70s Who records), it's another just to throw everything in your sonic arsenal into every tune.




are you actually appreciating from what you've heard how much of this is created on traditional instruments?... there is a lot of brilliance in there....
BinokularUser is Offline
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Binokular

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21 May 2008 02:11 AM
Posted By Ally on 21 May 2008 2:40 AM




are you actually appreciating from what you've heard how much of this is created on traditional instruments?... there is a lot of brilliance in there....




You're getting distracted by hardware again, which at the end of the day, is all a traditional instrument is, there isn't a huge distinction in my mind between an acoustic instrument, one that uses amplification from pickups, one that generates sound based on the properties of electronic circuits (e.g. vintage synths) or the latest generation that create it entirely in software or DSPs. All have their own unique qualities and character, but they are still just tools.

I understand whats going on, theres a lot of real instruments, and then those instruments are being processed and looped on the fly, in real time. All very impressive, but the end result leaves me flat. There seems to be an incredible amount of effort going into convincing you theres a lot going on, "ooh look we're all playing bass while mucking about with laptops and standing on an effects pedal and singing, look multitasking! if I bounce around a bit too, I might even convince people it's interesting!". Sonically though there doesn't seem to be a great return for the energy invested. It's a chuck everything at it approach, which can sometimes work, but in this case doesn't


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Ally

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21 May 2008 03:30 AM
actually, i was wrong when i said i like 'tonto' much better... i was thinking of 'tij'.... tij is everything atlas wants to be....

...personally, i think the return is quite good...

i buy a lot of music and i can genuinely say that the battles album and the marnie stern album were my two favourite albums of 2007 because they gave me something different.... something that i couldn't really say "that just sounds like x mixed with y"... or "that's very good but i've heard so much of this type of stuff"...
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headu phole

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21 May 2008 11:18 AM
Fair play to you Darragh for addressing the complaints. I respect your opinion but, well a little research might be best going forward like, I dont know. I attacked your writing but I have to stand by those comments, they are only my opinion after all. I dont even have the balls to post my real name here (wont grow them either!) so feck it, dont take it too personally! :o) It's certainly not intended to upset you personally, or anyone else on your behalf. So Pardon me Parton for voicing my opinion...
I went to see Antibalas in crawdaddy last year (I think it was last year? minds a blur) and savage craic to watch like yeah...wound up hanging out with them, the bouncers didnt mind the whacky but a cigarette was produced and they got stern! very funny incident at the time...I have just a few of Fela's records (70 odd records made, yeah?) savage stuff, totally with you there.
However, I still had a great time at Battles like, it was bizarre to hear some of the familiar fills from Helmet/Tomahawk tunes thrown around a different type of music.

So what happens next, will someone from the ani-battles camp play divide and rule and ask us in the pro-battles camp which is the bestest song? (It is Tonto by the way hahahaha) )

all the best...)
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vandala

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29 May 2008 11:12 AM
I also think Battles are horrible.

As for the review, I wouldn't have been bothered reading it if it weren't for this thread. I wasn't at the gig, but it seemed a pretty balanced assessment to me.
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MarkO

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06 Jun 2008 03:10 AM
Posted By Rev Jules on 20 May 2008 9:46 AM
My brother's Harley makes a more musical sound that Battles, by a long shot




Any chance said Harley could make a coherent post too ?
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