Long ago and far away I was a college music major, and to this day I remain an incomparable dork, so I was quite pleased when I stumbled across a post by the online audio production consultants at Fix Your Mix which examined one of my favorite new rock bands through those academia-colored glasses.
Battles are a hyper-complex Brooklyn prog-rock band whose debut album Mirrored is perfect for armchair music theorizing. As a music writer who frequently suppresses similar nerdy analytical urges, I’m always intrigued by the ways in which rock writing can evolve intellectually, and as a fan of the band, I’m glad I’m not the only one paying attention to the more confusing elements of their record. I do, however, think there are better places to focus this energy than discussing the melodic mode that comes into play after the singer swallows all the helium. For example, the live version of Tonto which was included as a bonus track when that song was released as a single last year subtly alters the arrangement to highlight the parallel structure of the various riffs, and I also remember reading somewhere that one song on the album is an retrograde inversion of another. I don’t quite hear it that way myself, so I’m not sold yet, but the very thought takes me back to my greenhorn collegiate attempts at writing almost-certainly-awful crab canons in elementary four-part harmony.
Maybe, as was often the case with my coursework, I just need to listen again with a score in hand. That, unfortunately, means I’ll need a score; I’m not holding my breath, but man, wouldn’t that be cool?