• TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007

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    What exactly is “math-rock”? The exponential increase of clunky heartbeat rhythms until you can’t put two and two together? The even dividing of walls of sound into human and machine counterparts? Or the mirroring of our perception of reality inside a calculator of graphs, decimals, radicals, and memory?

    Limits or infinites?

    Battles dubs themselves with this apt label for their first full-length album, Mirrored, a woozy glimpse into what math might sound like if we listened closely. The shimmering humor behind so many tracks on this album reminds us that while those too wise to experiment will claim this century is having its soul sucked out by YouTube, iTunes, and MySpace, the philosopher knows that the mind behind the robot will always prevail. Is the internet taking us captive, or can computers make us more human? When “Rainbow” sputters like a Fisher Price toy on speed before wailing into its space-odyssey gong-fest, is there any question about who’s in charge? When “Tij” builds on the recorded loop of hard breathing while careening into a haunted pinball machine, can you calculate where the line starts and ends? Mirrored is a challenge…a math problem, if you will.

    Whether it’s the woeful whistling and smooth “a capella” arrangements on “Race:In” or the appearance of actual lyrics on “Atlas” and “Ddiamondo” (performed like nothing you’ve heard before, might I add), Battles always manages to include a little flesh and blood in their equation. The clash between the living and the simulated is so strikingly harmonious that it doesn’t seem a struggle, but rather an excited acknowledgement of their combined power. So add it up. What is being Mirrored here? - Dorit Finkel

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