Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Battles - Tonto EP

Nearly 43 minutes, this EP. The Field's remix of “Tonto” is overworked into techno repetition, quickly wearing, losing the great musicianship of the original. The Four Tet remix alternately retains the rhythmic bass line that lies at the song's core, layering a more club-friendly beat underneath but allowing a few of the original's introductory keyboard notes to eventually seep through. Four Tet is successful in highlighting the most memorable aspects of the song being reworked, sneaking throughout snippets of every musician's offerings.

A live version of “Tonto” finds bassist Dave Konopka speeding things up to nearly one and a half times the song's recorded pace, and keyboard solos eagerly cheered on. The live version of “Leyendecker” is less climactic, though a remix by DJ Emz featuring an emcee performance by Joell Ortiz reworks the song nicely so that it sounds more sampled in entirety than remixed.

The real reason to nab this EP, though, is the included DVD that features videos for “Tonto” and “Atlas,” one of 2007's most exciting tracks, as well as a ten-minute doc on the making of “Tonto.” In the “Tonto” video, you become hyper-aware of the pace shared by lead guitar and crash cymbals, paired in syncopation with Konopka's bass and setting the rhythm for each of the camera's cuts. It eventually becomes a performance video, with poles and drops of white light surrounding the band and flashing in time with the rhythm of the bass and increasingly every other instrument. It's only after the sun rises over the band, the surrounding jagged rocks and lights, that you remember how Konopka's bass and John Stanier's tom have mimicked a sort of Native American chant. “Atlas” likewise finds the group surrounded by night stars, only this time in space and performing in a mirrored cube, exposing that a third of what sounds to be guitar is actually keyboard. Still pretty brilliant.

Battles (remixed by DJ Emz, featuring Joell Ortiz) - Leyendecker
Buy the Tonto EP (note: those who bought this CD also purchased Chubby Checker's Knock Down the Walls)

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