It seems unthinkable that an avant-jazz/noise-rock band, one that includes former members of Helmet and Don Caballero, could summon such well-anchored melodies and coherent polyrhythms from a sea of cables, laptops, and pedals. Although this kind of bionic rock has been done before, it has never sounded so approachable yet undiluted, which is probably the reason why the ever-prescient Warp, a label known for electronic dance music, released this future classic.
It's John Stanier's octopus-like drumming that creates the nucleus around which the vocals loop, keyboards trill, and guitars hook. Intricate patterns pop up like Whac-A-Moles on "TIJ" and "Race: In," while "Atlas" -- with its militant drums, pitch-bent vocals, and processed guitars -- is about as close to a traditional song structure as Battles writes. But even when post-rock scatting melds into muscular beats, as they both weave through a synthesized traffic jam of sound, the band remains amazingly deft, certain not to swirl off into heady noodling. Instead, Battles crescendos to rock greatness; simply check out the skittering "Ddiamondd," the oriental funk of "Tonto," and the Vox-heavy groove of "Leyendecker" for evidence.