Last year, Brooklyn experimental band Battles regrouped after the departure of keyboardist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton to release Gloss Drop, a followup to their 2007 debut, Mirrored. They build here on that momentum with the aptly named Dross Glop, a collection of remixes commissioned to a variety of producers. Since February, they’ve been dropping the album in pieces on 12-inch vinyl, and now they’ve assembled the songs together in one effort.
All the hands involved in the morphing of Gloss Drop to Dross Glop give the album the disjointed vibe of a collection, not an album. Some of the tracks are downright ugly listening — like the stuttering EYE remix of “Sundome” that wavers like a mirage — but a few gems shine through.
Overall, Dross Glop has a downtipped fedora and steely jaw, a noir remaking of its inspiration. Opening track “Wall Street”, by Brazilian producer Gui Boratto, is the most accessible and enjoyable on the album. The seven-minute dance track has a conspiratorial edge, evoking a cat-and-mouse chase through dark streets or the first streaks of light in the sky at an all-night party. Pushing it forward is a bass beat that comes in with the awesome power of a fleet of synchronized rowers. Patrick Mahoney and Dennis McNany’s “My Machines” also works well. The duo stretches out the melody with reverb in a way that isolates the eerie beauty of Gary Numan’s cold mantra, “Welcome to my machines/Come inside my machines.” It never loses focus or turns tiresome, even after nine minutes.
The nervous pitch of the album reaches a nauseous highpoint with Kangding Ray’s smooth remix of “Toddler”. The slurry of minor chords tinkles with a pristine clarity that manages to soothe and disturb simultaneously. Gang Gang Dance takes “Ice Cream” with a furrowed-brow cacophony of percussion: whips, snaps, clucks, squeals, unidentifiable bonks. It’s a fun remix, but leeched of the sexual exuberance of the original. Still, even when the remixes don’t come up with anything particularly groundbreaking to say, it’s interesting to hear Gloss Drop through new ears.
Essential Tracks: “Wall Street” (Gui Boratto Remix) and “My Machines” (Dennis McNany Remix)