You sit on a cold bench in a small, crowded room next to individuals wearing white coats. You all face the same transparent glass that makes up one entire wall. Through the glass is pitch blackness. The people that sit on either side of you are wearing intense, focused expressions and hold notebooks in their hands. A light illuminates the darkness in front of you, and three individuals wearing white coats walk into view, to a table covered with unfamiliar tools . . .
There are bands that experiment and explore new sounds behind the confines of closed doors, only to emerge with a polished result once it is mutually agreed upon that the new direction has been mastered; and then there are those bands that revel and thrive in the transparency of their development. La Di Da Di is the newest full-length by Battles, a wonderfully obscure instrumental trio that dominates the latter of these categories.
Battles embody the term “math-rock” to a tee, navigating labyrinthine compositions in odd time signatures sprinkled with abrupt transitions and meter changes. John Stanier is the ever-forceful anchor of the group, pummeling away with fierce, intricate drumming; Ian Williams ornaments the songs with rhythmic guitar and keyboard; and Dave Konopka fleshes out the tracks with pedalboard-contorted bass and guitar.
Previous releases included vocals, either in the form of original frontman Tyondai Braxton on Mirrored or a multitude of features on Gloss Drop, but that isn’t the case here. This record illustrates a clear image in the listener’s mind of three highly adept musicians traversing new ideas together, having fun with it, and allowing us to bear witness. If you’re seeking impeccably fun, instrumental math-rock, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)