Prog-rock, math-rock, orgiastic cyborg-rock: Call Battles what you will, but the bottom line is that these boys not only play exceptionally well, but they do so as if Steve Reich were conducting the band himself. As a treat for Battles’ enthusiasts everywhere, this EP follow-up to 2007’s startling full-length debut, Mirrored, features current single “Tonto” four times; there is the album version, the live version, and two remixes by the Field and Four Tet. In addition, there are two versions of “Leyendecker” — one live and one remix by DJ EMZ, with Joel Ortiz emceeing. And that’s the EP: two songs, forty-plus minutes of music.
And surprisingly, it’s not too much for one sitting. If anything, Tonto+ attests to the versatility of Battles’ sound. The band fits just as well amid the sparse electronica of the Field as it does the backdrop for DJ EMZ’s hip-hop take on “Leyendecker.” But perhaps most impressive is the musicians’ ability to translate their album material live. Although they utilize electronics on stage, the machinelike precision with which they play is human, so that when “Tonto” crescendos to a full-out rock session before being dissected and deconstructed somewhere around the five-minute mark, it becomes perfectly clear that Battles is a band at the peak of its powers.