Dianogah – Battle Champions

Battle Champions

Thank god for indie rock. Where else are you going to find a band that has two bass players and a drummer. It takes some musical dedication to have a band where the main medium is usually the one that is so much in the background you can never hear it unless you listen closely. Don’t expect to be moved or rocked hard by this band. Do expect to have the interplay between a four- and six-string bass twirl around your head.
This mostly instrumental band from Chicago, Ill. have one previous full-length and a plethora of singles. This record was recorded by Steve Albini, who had something to do with all the best music in the 90’s. If you are at all familiar with the terms math rock or post rock and enjoy this kind of music, than this album is a must for you. Changes galore and untraditional structure of their songs makes the experience of two basses work.
The mellowness of “Kaisakunin” invites you to come to a shady porch and enjoy the coolness of a summer day. “At the Mercy of the Mustang” takes you back and forth to being on the verge of something and then to realizing you are already there. I will have to admit that the songs with vocals are usually my least favorite of this band. “Time for a Game of Stick” has vocals, but they take nothing away from this song. “Sometimes There are Birds” is a 30-second fade into quietness. After a slow start, “Indie Rock Spock Ears” picks up the pace as a piano is also incorporated into the sound. A memory that you may have as a kid banging on a toy piano is put to good use in “Emerson.” Gotta give props to your first roots in music.
How they are getting some of those sounds out of a bass, I don’t know, but I’m glad they’re doing it. “They Have Monkeys Like We Have Squirrels” goes from the bass to almost sounding like a percussion instrument to the basses fitting so well together to create such a full sound. Ok another song with vocals. “Eating Cake” sounds like a sad pop song, but the drumming saved the song for me. There is so much I like about this band that there has to be some kind of downside. I guess you can’t have your cake and yeah, yeah, yeah. “Work” is a short acoustic interlude. Don’t we wish all work is that serene and short. The fastest song on the album is “My Brother Wore Brown,” which eventually brings you to the edge of slow meaningful contemplation. I don’t want to give the impression that the songs are so mellow they will put you to sleep. It is the kind of mellow that is calm on the outside but a little busy on the inside or vice versa. The last song, “Sometimes There Used to Be Birds,” goes smooth and then takes a long drop and bounces back a bit to go back to the plateau, only to bring the two worlds together.
You can tell they probably had as much fun making the dioramas for the cover as actually making the album. All and all Battle Champions beats the hell out of those darn plastic snakes. Army men rule!