Battles | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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This peculiar New York quartet radically revamps its sound for the upcoming Mirrored (Warp), expanding its palette, toning down the angular guitar licks, and putting more bounce into the beats. The first two instrumental EPs were fascinating if kind of formal, but the new stuff feels far less schematic and serious. Tyondai Braxton's surprisingly playful vocals, enhanced by electronics, zip, chant, and burp across the harmonic spectrum with the giddiness of Animal Collective. Riffing is pretty much out; the guitars of Ian Williams and Dave Konopka form nifty rhythmic patterns from skittery lines and isolated, effects-treated tones. Drummer John Stanier moves beyond rock to sculpt industrial-strength rhythms from beats he's swiped from the disco and forced to chug, shuffle, and march. Five or six years ago Battles would've been called a post-rock band (indeed, parts of "Race: In" sound like they could've been on Millions Now Living Will Never Die), but since they have fancy pedigrees (the various members' credits include playing in Helmet, Storm & Stress, and Lynx, among others, as well as being the progeny of Anthony Braxton) they're mostly just called a supergroup. Bruce Lamont of Yakuza opens with a solo set, Voltage plays second, and Battles headline. a 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10.

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