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This is a weird moment for me. 2011′s Gloss Drop was one of the first full albums I reviewed for The Signal, before we added many of our bells and whistles. And yet it came a ways after Gloss Drop was released, particularly due to Battles’ depth of content and ingenuity on said album. And now, past what seems like wave after wave of remixed singles, Battles have released the expansive companion album Dross Glop. Just as before, it’s taken me more listens than I’d like to admit in order to prepare fully to review this collection. For although it’s merely a jumble of remixes at heart, Dross Glop is one of the most appropriate remix albums I’ve had the pleasure to hear, as it features a more-than-apt lineup and the right amount of experimentation to accompany Gloss Drop and its ambition.
Now, that was a haughty intro with an inordinate amount of praise. I have to back up and mention that Dross is still just remixes, and I’ve yet to meet one of its kind that actually bests the original. Dross Glop doesn’t break that mold, but it does expand upon the realm Battles introduced us to last year. Take “White Electric” to start off, where Shabazz Palaces turned what was in essence a long-spun build-up into an echo of itself, merely letting the original set the pace and setting for a track that’s infused with the Shabazz style. Similarly and unsurprisingly, The Field get the chance to imbue their own repetitive nature into “Sweetie and Shag,” a drawn out nine-minute remix which less reflects as much as it deconstructs the source material.
Both the above mentioned tracks work because they’re ripped from the b-sides of Gloss Drop, though while each is a solid song on their own they aren’t quite as compelling as Battles’ take on each. The more recognizable tracks from the original, “Futura,” “Africastle,” and “Ice Cream” to name a few, more resemble their past selves in these remixes. As they were already the stronger songs it seems like it was easier to keep the main elements and work around them. They, along with the Gui Boratto remix of “Wall Street” are a few of the better tracks on the album.
As with most remix albums though, you’ll find more to like in Dross Glop if you spent a lot of time with Gloss Drop. The Patrick Mahoney and Dennis McNany remix of “My Machines” is a worthy piece of electronica even if you didn’t enjoy the original, but it carries a bit more weight when compared to Battles’ version. It works itself out to be a very different version, with LCD Soundsystem-esque riffs lain under Gary Numan’s wailing vocals, winding up one of the stand-out tracks that comes close to the original in impression.
Dross Glop is a seriously solid remix album with few flaws, especially for fans of the source material. “Dominican Fade” and “Toddler” are decent, although not quite that interesting when all’s said and done. But the homages to Gloss Drop are respectful and also imaginative enough to make Dross a relatively successful release.