Tyondai Braxton is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. The former Battles loop guru / singer has worked with Philip Glass, performed his 2009 record Central Market with orchestras worldwide, and has written commission pieces for artists including Kronos Quartet and Bang on a Can All-Stars.
Now Braxton is taking over the Guggenheim. His new piece, Hive, which is part art installation / part music performance, will have its world premiere on March 21 in New York.
If the appeal of a cover tune rests on an artist’s ability to emulate a preexisting song and bring new flavors to it at the same time, then the remix is something of an estranged relative. With remixes, the implicit goal is to stretch an existing piece of music as far as it can possibly go. Remixers are thus encouraged to let their musical personality eclipse the composer’s. They are essentially hired to take risks, to reconstitute, and to deconstruct — even altogether ignore — the mood, structure, and musical components with which they’ve been given to work.
The end results often qualify as works of art unto themselves, yet they also exist more or less as novelty items. Arguably, few remixes connect with more than a limited niche audience — even for fans of groups like Massive Attack and Depeche Mode — and the thought of a group of remixes working together within the larger framework of a full-length album remains an anomaly.
But that isn’t stopping experimental rock trio Battles from trying.
In just one more trip around the sun, another swarm of immensely talented but under-recognized musicians has harnessed its collective talents and discharged its creations into the void. This list is but one fraction of those dedicated individuals who caught our ears with some serious jams.
During the recording of Battles‘ new album, integral multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton left the group to pursue solo endeavors. The remaining three members had to adapt quickly, producing a stunning sophomore album in just four months.
With its first release since former loop maestro / singer Tyondai Braxton left the band last year, experimental-rock band Battles is pounding the pavement, touring its new material from Gloss Drop, out June 7 via Warp. Guest vocalists on the record include Yamantaka Eye (Boredoms), Matias Aguayo, Gary Numan, and Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead), and for this tour, the group found an interesting way to bring them along (see below). These shots, from photographer Wallo Villacorta, are from the band’s recent stop in Chicago at Lincoln Hall.