Updated: Sep 13
Coming to us from Jacksonville, Florida, the husband and wife duo of Ed and Terri Cripps make up Batavia. The couple came together over their love of gothic and industrial music, specifically bands like 16Volt and Skinny Puppy, and in a prime example of #goals, the duo were married last November in a retro arcade, in front of an Addams Family pinball machine, no less. After releasing their Graveyard EP in July, Batavia have released their album Quite Mean Spirited, a celebration of the tunes that brought the Cripps together. Adding in notes of folk tales and classics, as well as a remix by the awesome Leæther Strip, this second outing by Batavia is a great guitar-forward industrial record.
Opening the proceedings is the title track, with a driving, marching rhythm and some post-punk-leaning guitar work. As Terri’s vocals take over from the introductory narration, the guitars come in with a Nineties overdrive and simplicity. The percussion pounds along to move things ahead, making this an accessible track that is still thumping all the while. Next is a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Upside Down,” with crunchy guitar riffs and vocals that sound like they’re being delivered into a megaphone rather than a microphone.
What follows is a story in two parts, based on the tale of a Soviet Russian woman who was taken from her home and ended up in an island prison. Part one is “Ab Initio,” adapted from a sailor song used by the Red Army in the 1930s. As such, the guitars have a distinct chorus effect, their chords doubled by an acoustic guitar lying just underneath the electric counterparts in the mix. Part two of this tale comes with the interlude “Finis,” an orchestral piece meant to evoke feelings of dread, as were felt by the subject of the story during her tribulations. It is otherworldly and uneasy, with the piano parts allowing a sense of dreariness and despair to bubble up throughout the track’s six minute runtime.
“The Absinthian” starts off much lighter and airy, but hits its stride before long with a rocking drum part and heavy guitar riffing. The softer sections with the fuzzy percussion and piano plinking along give a bit of levity to the affair, letting the rock-heavy sections breathe. Concluding the record is a remix of the title track by Leæther Strip, trading in the guitars for harsher electronics and a somehow more deliberate rhythm than the original mix had.
With Quite Mean Spirited, the Cripps have provided us with a guitar-centered industrial record in whole. Whether adding bite to tracks like “Upside Down,” a mystical quality on “Ab Initio,” the ax is the focal point, with the electronics, synths, and Terri’s vocals complimenting its parts, rather than fighting for attention from the listener. For the more electro-minded listener, the Leæther Strip remix is a great incarnation of the title track. Batavia consists of two people who love, and fell in love by way of, dark music, and thus this record serves as a celebration of it.
Quite Mean Spirited is available now via Tigersquawk Records.