holding up the mirror(ed)

I'm deeply ambivalent about Battles' Mirrored, and for those that care to know why, wait no longer:

To preface my doubts, I wonder why music critics have swallowed it so willingly, advancing it as a kind of avant-pop future-music:
Mirrored is a breathtaking aesthetic left-turn that sounds less like rock circa 2007 than rock circa 2097, a world where Marshall stacks and micro-processing go hand in hand. (P4K)
With a score of 86/100 on Metacritic, it's safe to say that critical orthodoxy around Mirrored is that it's brilliant: progressive, unique, etc. Most reviews labour the point that Mirrored short-circuits experimental aesthetics (read: oblique compositions, heavily processed vocals) and something that still really 'rocks!'

Sure, it's mathematical rock (ie. math-rock) in many ways, but in another sense its amazing how obvious (transparent) and straightforward this complexity is. In other words: its complexity is not complex; there is nothing nuanced about Battles approach, regardless of how interesting it might seem it is overwhelming diagrammatic. Its puzzling just how many (often far more cynical) critics have omitted this point in their tripping over themselves to praise the album.

I find it interesting, considering this, that Battles are taken as a kind of 'forefront' to modern music (this is often played out literally in the futuristic discourse of many of the reviews). I think in some ways this speaks to a wider problem of a lack of true experimentation, critical and nuanced, in pop music - maybe this truly is the most exciting thing at the mo'. Maybe that's the most useful mirror Battles actually hold up, if unintentionally.

Aside from these issues, and somewhat in conflict with this first objection: is cyborg music really what we want? What if everyone followed Battles algorithms? I'll stop short of saying "I don't want music played by robots" because of course I'm fully aware that all (instrumental) music is a duality of human-machine (taken broadly) - but that doesn't mean I can't be wary of a sort of music that tries to elide the 'human' part, or at most leave only tiny traces of it in warped, unintelligible vocal samples. I don't know if I want such a programmatic music, bereft of error, a style akin to instruments playing themselves.

But then again, it's got a fucking catchy rhythm.

Battles - Race: In

- Who (what) are Battles actually battling? The answer is in the album title: no one but themselves.
- Battles' experiments have been made before, it's just this band synthesises and rhythmatises them

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