Posts by Denise Lu

Ian Williams - Battles live @ Villa Ada by Flavia_FF, on Flickr, used gratefully under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License
Used gratefully under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License. Photo by Flickr user Flavia_FF.

Last month, Denise spoke with Ian Williams, guitarist/keyboardist of math rock group Battles, for WNUR’s Airplay. They discussed some of the artistic collaborations that fed into the group’s latest album, Gloss Drop; the state of the local scene in Chicago; and about the altogether fuzzy definition of “math rock.” Battles will be playing at the Bottom Lounge tonight (June 14) with opener An Aesthetic Anaesthetic.

I know it’s a very different sound on stage as opposed to your studio albums, but there’s a lot of similarities for live shows; I’m wondering how much of it is planned versus improvised?

It’s planned, you know, but sometimes you kind of plan little pockets where things aren’t really that scripted. It’s more like you kind of know some of the events that are going to happen, like eventually the drummer is going to hit his cymbal or eventually somebody’s going to start a new riff or something. So you’re kind of waiting for things to happen, so it’s not like blind improvisation or anything like that.


The Magical Fairy Princess

According to their website, “The Bran Flakes are ready to turn that frown upside down, put a beat in your step, and a twinkle in your eye.” The sample-based group stands out from others in the sound collage genre by sampling everything from children’s cartoons to vintage commercial jingles. More interestingly, there’s usually a creepy contrast between the upbeat backdrop and the subject matter as told by the voices sampled.

The Bran Flakes, signed onto sampling label Illegal Art, consists of a core duo of Otis Fodder and Mildred Pitt, with additional musicians during live performances. The costumed group extends their gimmick throughout their online presence, with their website serving as a treasure trove for procrastinators—case in point—and their YouTube page offering some pretty trippy animated music videos.


Off an Eccentric Soul compilation by Chicago-based reissue label Numero Group, this track, with a heavy free jazz influence, is as groovy as it is jamming. The 2006 Numero compilation (re-released in 2011 as a double LP with 10 bonus tracks) features rare gems of the obscure Phoenix, AZ soul/funk scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s, all produced by Mike Lenaburg for various labels. “Loaded Back,” originally released in 1969 on Mighty Records, was re-released in 2004 on a 12” via LA-based Now-Again Records with Liggins’ side-project We The People, who are also featured on the Numero compilation. Basically, “Loaded Back” proves that any day is better with some funk flute.

[Numero Group]