I was struck by a vision one London night, as I crawled from pub to pub on the path of Ballard's ‘Atrocity Exhibition': above the brick walls, tightrope lines sliced geometric shapes into the lead sky. Spines of drizzle contorted around three silhouettes. Eyes glued to the pavement, they watched as their reflection got swept down the gutter.
We can't see their faces, but we know they are a band and that this band is called Battant. We know they are two boys and a girl; Joel Dever (synths), Tim Fairplay (guitar), Chloe Raunet (vocals), and we know that Chloe sings her own lyrics.
Urgent songs that waste no time, to the point and straight to the bone. Hard and icy images: the ghost of a majorette chased by her executioner (The Butcher); a tortured soul possessing a TV to reap revenge on the world (Socket); the lost children of capitalism, aimlessly wandering the dark alleyways of promise (Highway Hopeful, Kevin). All are reminiscent of Romero's zombies, or Joe Coleman's paintings... The absence of Reason breeds headless monsters indeed.
‘No Head'. Battant's first album. 40 minutes. 10 songs. 1 ghost. Nothing superfluous.
2005 East London. Battant is born when Chloe Raunet meets Mole, a figure of the local underground. Their demos, produced by Keith Tenniswood, catch the attention of his Two Lone Swordsmen partner, Andrew Weatherall. Battant quickly becomes a trio with the arrival of composer and guitarist Tim Fairplay. Their first EP ‘Jump Up', produced by Tim Holmes of Death in Vegas, get them a tour with Ladytron, Adult and opening slots with Primal Scream and Nitzer Ebb (to name a few).
2006 ‘Socket / I am Spider' is self-released as a 7". Mole leaves the group. Joel Dever, a Saint Martin's student and keyboard player, quickly replaces him. It's Andrew Weatherall, paternal figure to the group, who introduces them to Ivan Smagghe. Exiled in London, the DJ/Producer is seduced by the attitude and energy of Battant. He naturally steers the group toward his Parisian family, Kill The DJ (Chloe, Optimo, Aswefall). The label and band rapidly realise they have a lot in common: they are demanding, committed and share a certain taste for black and white.
2008 After the fierce 12" (Kevin 1989), Battant head into the studio to record their first album. But the group lose their way. No one is satisfied with the production on the first tracks. Back to square one, it's start from scratch. Ivan Smagghe and Tim Paris (It's a Fine Line) are called to duty.
In their Hoxton bunker, without the means of a high-end studio, they tear up the rags to keep only the threads. They have one conviction: that in destitution and emaciation the group will fulfil their potential, rediscovering the vital energy of Garage Rock and the rough grace of early Cure. Scalpelled, the songs come alive: uncompromising and relevant. Black suits Battant, but they shouldn't be reduced to it. Chase Siouxsie and the goth imagery from your mind. Rather search towards the electronic fever of Suicide, the minimal pop of Young Marble Giants and the intensity of Jacques Brel.
Finally, re-read the novels of JG Ballard. Between the lines, you'll probably see the headless
face of Battant.
1 - Mark Twain
2 - Highway hopeful
3 - Rerinse
4 - The Lurker
5 - Yokohama RC
6 - The Butcher
7 - Radio Rod
8 - Socket
9 - Human Rug
10 - Bruise
Bonus - Kevin (1989)