Battles' debut on Warp Records, Mirrored, has turned plenty of heads since it came out earlier this year; it's also turned up in all the big music mags. But unless you've seen Battles play live -- say, at the band's recent semi-hometown show at Gooski's -- it can be tough to get your hooks into this complex, faceless, essentially lyric-less group. This new EP from the band helps flesh out Battles' artistic program.
It says something about a group to create an entire release around remixes and alternate versions of a nearly-eight-minute instrumental ... that already appeared on an album. And "Tonto," with its erratic opening, atonal flurries of notes and gradual, final deceleration, couldn't be further from a "single." Starting with the version of "Tonto" from Mirrored, the CD includes remixes from Four Tet and The Field, followed by jaw-dropping live versions of "Tonto" and "Leyendecker." DJ EMZ's hip-hop deconstruction of "Leyendecker," featuring Brooklyn emcee Joell Ortiz, wraps up the disc.
But the fun starts, really, with the included DVD. The exquisitely stark new video for "Tonto," by the United Visual Artists group, uses an elaborate assembly of LED-encrusted poles to strategically illuminate the band as its performs at night in what's gradually revealed to be a quarry; the head-scratching video for the "Atlas" single and a behind-the-scenes look at the "Tonto" video complete the DVD.
Battles' cool distance may be part of its digitally resurfaced aesthetic, but the multiple exposures of their music presented here lend it a welcome dimensionality. And sure, while you can watch the video on YouTube, it just looks a lot better on the wider dimensions of your TV.