Battant: As I Ride With No Horse
Kill the DJ Records
Chloe Raunet and Joel Denver are Battant and, after a gap of two years the duo return with their second album.
The pair produce lo-fi, DIY music, describing their sound as “DIY … [like that of] kids with special needs.” Personally, I think this is an unfair comparison. I’m certain that there are countless kids with special needs out there who would be capable of producing an album to challenge 'As I Ride with No Horse'.
I love the notion of DIY recording – using found sounds to create interesting samples, elevating commonplace noises into components of an electro-junk symphony, and, above all, having the freedom to make your music the way you like it. One’s DIY efforts should, however, be kept to oneself until one has reached a basic level of proficiency – that way, it’s possible that the listener might actually take some enjoyment from the listening experience. Sadly, I was able to take very little enjoyment from this album.
Musically, the pair are about as far from virtuoso as it is possible to be whilst actually being in possession of a full complement of limbs. Almost every song begins with an irritating bass-line (many of them out of time) which is quickly joined with seemingly random doodles on a keyboard of some kind and some decidedly ropey vocals. I suppose Raunet’s voice may be an acquired taste – there are shades of Chrissie Hynde – but she’s just not my cup of tea.
The opening tracks, 'As I Ride with No Horse' and 'Shutter', are among the better tracks on the album. 'As I Ride with No Horse' is a simple rocker with a good back beat and a reasonable vocal by Raunet. 'Shutter' is described by the band as “British Modern Punk,” and I can see where the label comes from – in terms of production, it is as rough, ready and urgent as its 1970’s forebears, and while the instrumentation is less aggressive, the song fairly spits attitude.
By far the most painful track is 'Farmer’s Ode to Wife', a spoken word track done in a horribly cloying Calamity Jane accent, all recited over a simple, yet irritating, backing track.
I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t get it, but I found it really difficult to find any positives regarding this album. The material is, in my view, weak, the performances are poor and the production is wayward and imprecise.
Perhaps the fault is mine, and other listeners will get something from this. For me, though, it’s thirty-seven minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.