Battles plus Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid @ The Venue

Battles structured approach melded disparate strands into a vital cultish sound

Article by Duncan Forgan | 15 Jun 2006
There are times when going to a gig is akin to witnessing a weird form of collective brainwashing that you just aren't part of; music that, to you, sounds as though it should have been drowned at birth but still elicits nods of approval from glazed-eyed disciples. That certainly seemed to be the case when Kieran Hebden of Four Tet joined forces with virtuoso jazz-drummer Steve Reid. While Reid - a former player for legends such as Sun Ra and Dexter Gordon - turned out an exemplary display of free-jazz rhythm keeping, the ear-splitting robotic noises supplied by Hebden prompted imaginings of R2-D2 jamming with Ornette Coleman. Not, in this reviewer's opinion anyway, an enticing soundclash. Far better left-field results were provided by New Yorkers Battles, whose more structured approach took in elements of jazz, hard-rock, funk and techno while managing to meld the disparate strands into a vital, and wholly understandable, cultish sound. [Duncan Forgan]