When Tyondai Braxton left Battles two years ago, the remaining trio banded together with Gary Numan, Kazu Makino, Matias Aguayo and Yamantaka Eye to release last year’s Gloss Drop. The album got mixed reviews, but received much good press in spite of the naysayers. And for good reason. Guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams, guitarist/bassist Dave Konopka and drummer John Stanier created one of the most original and complex albums that’s been given to the public in the past decade. Now, with the release of their remix album Dross Glop, the band has given the wheel to a variety of artists and groups like Shabazz Palaces, Brian DeGraw of Gang Gang Dance, Kode9, and The Field.
Collaborative remix albums tend to have tracks that vary in both quality and variety, and Dross Glop is no exception, though most of the tracks do have a leaning towards the electronic music realm. The album is organized in a different order compared to the original and kicks off with Gui Boratto’s remix of “Wall Street.” The track shows off Boratto’s usual progressive house style soaked between every guitar note and sampled piano. It’s more focused and straightforward than the frantic original. The Alchemist’s remix of “Futura” employs the track’s jangly guitar and ominous synth surge with taste. The rhythm and beat of the track speak to the years the producer has been working in the world of hip-hop. It is one of the most enjoyable remixes on the compilation.
Shabazz Palaces’ remix of “White Electric” keeps the hip-hop vibe flowing as Dross Glop continues. The group’s rendition is based around a small sample of the original track’s guitar, which slouches down and walks with celestial swag as Ishmael Butler spits cosmic knowledge over fuzzy bass hits and handclaps. The vocals stretch out like a broken slinky halfway through the remix as the guitar sample switches to what sounds like a futuristic spaceship turning its ignition. Kode9’s “Africastle” remix takes the album to the cobblestones of the UK bass scene. Over the course of seven minutes, the London producer turns the original album’s slow-swelling opening track into some type of dark club banger. Kangding Ray’s remix of “Toddler” continues the murky club atmosphere with a steady four-on-the-floor kick and thumping bass.
Unfortunately there are some shoddy re-interpretations. Hudson Mohawke’s remix of “Rolly Bayce” tries to follow the original’s spastic progression formula too closely. And on producers Patrick Mahoney and Dennis McNany’s collaborative effort on “My Machines,” while Gary Numan’s vocals are sampled, not once is the guitar drone that was such a staple in the original used. With such an essential part of the original cut from the remix, the track doesn’t reach its full potential. But despite a couple speed bumps, Dross Glop is as solid of a collaborative remix album as you’re going to find. It’s interesting to see how the artists interpreted and made changes to the original release, especially with the creative cast chosen to be part of the effort. It’s unsure when the next Battles release will be, so eat this up while it’s still fresh.