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An odd-spot of trivia: Battles, the New York outfit perhaps defined by being primarily an instrumental band, have released their first-ever entirely-instrumental album.
2007’s Mirrored featured the warped howls, chirps and cries of then-member Tyondai Braxton; while follow-up Gloss Drop included guests such as new-wave veteran Gary Numan. It’s here, on their third LP overall, in which the surviving trio – drummer John Stanier, multi-instrumentalists Dave Knopka and Ian Williams – are left entirely to their own devices. Literally.
How you respond to La Di Da Di depends on how much you are willing to immerse in the band’s ornately-layered song structures. In spite of its sing-song title, it’s a challenging and technical record; the kind that takes the term of “math rock” to mean equations written across an entire chalkboard.
That’s not intended to scare anyone off, of course, rather it’s to eliminate the room of squares; leaving those that have a full comprehension of what they’re in store for to enjoy the winds, bends, detours and derailments La Di Da Di presents.
Stanier thunders through the record, whether dropping in immovable-object beats (The Yabba, Dot Com) or flurrying about to create unstoppable-force fills (Non-Violence, Luu Le). The use of looping and repetition may initially deceive listeners into believing that there is a limited palette; yet when revealed in their full form, they are but one of many systems cycling through each passage.
Nothing on La Di Da Di presents itself with the immediate accessibility of an Atlas or an Ice Cream, but the ultimate reaction to this is twofold: There doesn’t have to be; and it makes the complete listening experience all the more rewarding once you allow yourself to move past this and appreciate it under its own context.
Watch: Battles – The Yabba