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Battles / Charlottefield / DJ Scotch Egg / Emperor vs Dragons


Battles / Charlottefield / DJ Scotch Egg / Emperor vs Dragons
Bardens Boudoir, London, 17 July 2005

My journey from Leeds to London was not a good one. After a random bag search in Doncaster (beard + large bag + fear + Doncaster = terrorist, it would seem) I received a text informing me that the Noisestar festival was cancelled. Unbelievably another text soon followed: ‘Battles‚ at Bardens Boudoir’. Sweet. Where?

The Boudoir is literally an underground venue. Its darkened booths and cellar-like attributes making it perfect for the evening’s events. Emperor vs Dragons were first, their humble performance failing to engage the majority of the audience’s growing appetite. Their sound is an uninspired take on Pink & Brown noise mixed with an obvious ex-love of all things garage. Although not offensive, the set was not developing, and a large chicken hat had attracted my attention. DJ Scotch Egg decided that audio convulsions were part of the script as his dark, aggressive electronica was processed through a couple of Gameboys. His control of such sonic techno and his android screams dispelled any pretension in the room.

Having heard a lot about Brighton’s DIY scene from mates and travelling Leeds bands, it was interesting to see what some describe as the most impressive band of the area – Charlottefield. The distinctively-bearded drummer acts as a centrepiece for this highly original art-punk/hardcore band. Mixing quirky Dischord-style velocity, post-punk and intense rhythm changes, their own style shines through. The highlight of their set is the performance of ‘Weevils’, an instrumental and the last track on their recent first full-length release. The Big Black-era noise breaks into DNA, complimented by Locust-meets-Black flag percussion.

Battles contains ex-members of Don Cabellero, Tomahawk and Helmet‚ and was always going to contain elements of each, but what has come of it is completely unique. The relaxed, yet focused band members nonchalantly finish the opener, and after hearing the first song’s calibre you could be forgiven for thinking ‘could this continue at such a standard?’. A mass mental and physical takeover was taking place, and could be witnessed throughout the crowd as their senses were disorientated by this alien music. The angular, minimal guitar layers, effects and techniques tessellated perfectly with Glenn Branca/Steve Reich transcendence and complementary synth. The intricate drumming possesses fierce power and speed. The tempo progresses through jazz, hip-hop and drum’n’bass, backed by pre-recorded tracks that the drummer sets about disassembling. This is an act so diverse in musical emotion and escapism that for the encore the crescendos of noise set about moulding the experience deep inside your mind.

Bands with no soul beware. Battles could change even the most closed-minded of views on experimental rock music.