La Di Da Di
Warp, 18th September 2015
I first heard Battles before I realised that “math rock” was even a thing. Listening to ‘Race: Out’, from their first full-length album Mirrored, I realised that instruments can be so much more interactive than just acting as a complimentary backing to a pleasing set of vocals. La Di Da Di is a record that perfects Battles’ use of sound as language, a form of binary repetition that draws the listener into an interface of computerised sound. Records like these are a different experience to a classic rock or pop album; you’re far more likely to sit down and absorb the record as one cohesive whole rather than being hit by fragmented singles and ‘most downloaded track’ accolades.
Despite me having favourites from this album (FF Bada) and there being standout tracks (The Yabba) records like this aren’t designed for transient consumerist guzzling. Our advert-heavy spotify musicosphere and technology dependent culture has robbed us of the ability to just sit down and listen to a record from start to finish without something interjecting and demanding our attention, exactly what records like this require from us as listeners. The album artwork for La Di Da Di certainly hints at a messy sexualised consumer culture too, complete with phallic banana penetration – wanton social commentary before you’ve even laid the breakfast table.
“RECORDS LIKE THESE ARE A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE TO A CLASSIC ROCK OR POP ALBUM”
The absence of vocals doesn’t seem to have taken away from what Battles is capable of achieving as a band. Figureheading a computerised, technological era, the genre-bending instrumental lends itself to a new flavour of rock / indie, despite John Stanier self-describing Battles as “walking the fine line between a pop band and a new heavy handed prog-rock band” in their recent Rolling Stone interview*. Thinking of Battles as “pop” is challenging; I would never consider the ironic chaos of ‘Non-VIolence’ or the internalised repetition of ‘Cacio e Pepe’ as “pop” a lá One Direction. But the boundaries of genre definition will always encumber music journalism. You could call Battles are Art rock, Math rock, Experimental post-rock, whipped-cream-watermelon-penetrating cyborgs from the future, whatever – they are la-di-la-ing right back into our minds once again after four years away.