Battles Satisfy Their Appetite For Deconstruction, Explain “Atlas” In Periodic Intervals

Bona fide breakout year for extraterrestrial sonic surgeons Battles, and despite Mirrored’s overall excellence, the mounting buzz goes back to “Atlas” — song and video alike. Of course, we’re lost when it comes to just what makes those chipmunk and whale noises; we just know we like. Thanks to Battles and Esquire, then for speaking to the mystery with this segment-by-segment track breakdown. Now you can finally cover it with your band! But be sure to reference the segments by name.

Intro 0:00-0:43
Drummer John Stanier begins the main beat, “Schaffel,” on the low tom-tom. Dave Konopka counters with a bass loop, piling three notes on top of one another. Tyondai Braxton joins in with a digital loop called “Bath Turtle,” built of beat-boxed bass, drums, high hats, and snares. Ian Williams joins the alliance, playing guitar with his left hand, keyboard with his right.

Chorus 0:43-1:15
Braxton sings his “Chorus Vox” vocal into a “pitch shifter” and loops it, his live voice alternating notes with pitched-up vocals. Konopka adds “Live Bass Pulse,” riding the “Schaffel” rhythm. Stanier adds kick drum.

Chorus Full 1:44-2:16
Stanier plays “Schaffel Beat Full Bloom” — the main beat, fully developed. Braxton reprises “Chorus Vox.” Williams returns his hands to their original positions.

Tiny Bridge Bookend 2:16-2:20
The band members all play three notes or beats in place of one, as with Williams’s “Van Halen Triplet.” Braxton rests.

Metropolis 2:20-2:48
Williams and Braxton play the “Metropolis Melody,” both playing keyboard with one hand and guitar with the other, in unison.

Breakdown 2:48-4:00
Konopka’s bass loop dominates, backed by Stanier’s kick drum. Braxton fades beat-boxed high hats and bass up and down. Konopka creates the “Nasty Boyz” loop, a variation on his “Elephant Boy,” as Williams plays the “Xtra Grease” keyboard loop.

See? Not so hard. Try it at home. Read the rest of the sound map at Esquire. The actual lyrics to the track aren’t discussed, but according to Taylor, the band’s divulged them to be:

singer is a crook, whoa-ey-oh
singer is a crook, whoa-ey-oh
singer is a crook, whoa-ey-oh

kitchen is for cook, whoa-ey-oh
scissors at the barber, whoa-ey-oh

Really can’t argue with that prose, except for the larcenous vocalist bit.

RELATED: Battles have their five-song Tonto EP out 11/6, which features a pretty rad DJ Emz remix of “Leyendecker” featuring Joell Ortiz. Have a listen to the remix at Nah Right, and compare with the original:

Battles – “Leyendecker” (MP3)


[Pic of Battles discussing something probably conceptual and awesome from their gig at the Seaport 8/31/07]

Tags: Battles