So Tyondai Braxton, he of bewildering and deeply awesome NYC art-rockers Battles, has left the group, effective immediately, terse Warp Records statement and all. I admit to being dismayed and unnecessarily melodramatic about it. These guys are/were fantastic, dense and cerebral and overpowering, a quartet of titanic dexterity and innovation: The startlingly bizarre “Atlas,” nominal single to their 2007 full-length debut Mirrored, is probably the craziest song I love. Returning to the tune now is a good enough way to try and figure out exactly what they/we lost here.
Get a load of that shit. Tyondai is responsible for the, uh, “vocals” here, such as they are: Was he their “frontman”? Does this even count as “singing”? Is it irreplaceable, or can anyone sound like a demented Smurf? What impressed most about Battles, especially live, was their democratic nature — the typical frontman front-and-center spot onstage is traditionally held by drummer John Stanier’s kit, towering cymbal and all. (Great headline.) The band is ostensibly still hard at work on Mirrored‘s follow-up; Braxton’s loss is a tremendously blow but not, perhaps, a fatal one. One advantage to sounding like some sort of demented machine is you can always pick up new parts, or replace them. If you have a great talent for wheezing through several thousand dollars worth of high-end electronics, get in touch.