Review of Dross Glop Remixes Album by Battles

Battles' new remix album Dross Glop is, in essence, a victory lap. Its source material, the extravagant math-rock whirligig Gloss Drop, was one the best albums released in 2011. The folks who have agreed to play with that material include Kode9, Shabazz Palaces and Boredoms' Yamantaka Eye - some of the most interesting and forward-thinking people making music right now. Not only are they talented, they have their own extremely distinctive aesthetics and, listening to them twist and reshape Gloss Drop tracks so that they resemble something that might crop up on one of their own albums, is, at times, a fascinating experience.

Battles Dross Glop Remixes Album

That twisting and reshaping also ensures that Dross Glop is, like most remix albums, not a particularly cohesive experience. You'll be whisked abruptly from genre to genre, from techno to avant-garde hip-hop, which can be somewhat disconcerting. Little thought appears to have been given to the sequencing of the record. It's a disjointed listen; okay, everyone's using a similar set of building blocks, but when one guy wants to build a spaceship and someone else is more interested in constructing an (afri)castle, that doesn't ensure cohesion.

You'll need to get past that and accept Dross Glop for what it is: a loosely bound together collection of disparate but generally impressive tracks. There are some great re-imaginings here, from Qluster's transformation of 'Dominican Fade' into a shimmering mood piece which wouldn't sound out of place on Another Green World to Shabazz Palaces' complete overhaul of 'White Electric', which becomes a slowly unfolding avant-garde hip-hop track, a close cousin of the songs on their own Black Up.

Yamantaka Eye provided typically shamanistic vocals on the original 'Sundome'; here, he concocts a manic rhythmic assault with more than a hint of Boredoms about it. Meanwhile, Gloss Drop's infectious, slightly crazy pop moment, 'Ice Cream', is re-jigged by Brian Degraw of Gang Gang Dance; Degraw produces something rather less exuberant, a patient synth track which suddenly shape-shifts when the madcap vocal springs out of nowhere.

So, like I say, this is a victory lap: a celebration of Battles' talents and of their excellent second album. Like most victory laps, it's a little self-indulgent and, like all victory laps, it takes place after the main event. If you haven't already heard Gloss Drop, then a) you should go and listen to it immediately and b) Dross Glop is unlikely to be of too much interest. Everything here is good but nothing ranks amongst the contributors very best work and, taken as a whole, the record is not a cohesive listen. If, on the other hand, you enjoyed the original tracks, you'll find these re-imaginings an interesting postscript.

Nick Gale

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