Release Date: Feb 25, 2014
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Indie Electronic, Experimental Electronic, IDM
Review Summary: Idm rebirth. It could easily be argued that the trajectory of all art is cyclical. Not so much cyclical in that it perpetually returns to a specific point, but progressively cyclical, a snowballing of ideologies and approaches that are absorbed into the rotating sphere of influence that is constantly refreshed, impacted, and expanded upon as it progresses along a linear path.
There seems to be a current school of thought that electronic music might be the last real bastion of experimentation. The proliferation of cheap (read: cracked) software, limitless free lessons and a vast public forum has opened the door to a new wave of producers, unencumbered by limitations, expectation or public demand. Artists are finding new and exciting ways to paint with an unending sonic palette and their efforts have found a captivated audience.
On ESTOILE NAIANT, maximalism initially appears to be the order of the day. patten’s complex textures remain dense throughout, bar a few precious moments of delicate respite, as familiar objects of techno-psychedelia are surrounded by a disorienting assemblage of electronic hisses and stabs, drums rendered mutant and scant moments of discernible human sounds. Sonic comparisons could be drawn to Aphex Twin or Boards of Canada, an acknowledgement in collating the abstract with the familiar.
It’s not the easiest of tasks to write about patten, mainly because there hasn’t been much circulated about the unidentified, photo-shy Londoner. His Twitter feed is a stream of links to things such as the Wikipedia page for Theseus’ Paradox and his live appearance on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction didn’t reveal too much, aside from the abstract. His label Kaleidoscope is, apparently, “more like an ecosystem” than a label, while his live sets are “atypical” and full of experimentation.
Signing to Warp for his fourth album feels like a natural move for patten, given that his sound has always most echoed the British home of braindance and electronic brutalism. It was the release of GLAQJO XAACSSO back in 2011, followed by a series of great live performances, that put patten firmly on the map, and ESTOILE NAIANT works as a satisfying continuation of patten's work, albeit one that moves his sound in a sideways direction. The music patten creates has always blended the nebulous with the precise, but ESTOILE NAIANT is hazier and less beat-focused than GLAQJO XAACSSO, coming across like Actress on the right meds with less of the classic IDM influence.
patten's music is all sharp edges, cut from shapes that never sit easily alongside one another. The largely anonymous London-based producer has been around for a while, releasing music by others on his Kaleidoscope label, and making his first venture as patten with a CDR titled There Were Horizons back in 2007. His first official release, GLAQJO XAACSSO for No Pain in Pop, demonstrated his Warp fandom.
patten's aesthetic—freeform composition, nonsense song titles, collage-style sleeve designs—has become so impenetrable that he's starting to sound like some lost casualty of '90s IDM. Maybe it's appropriate that he's ended up on Warp, the original home for all that stuff. His latest album, ESTOILE NAIANT, fits that bill more snugly than ever, taking the neurotic fidget of late '90s Autechre and painting it with a palette of pastels.
In the kingdom of the over exposed, the man with the low profile is king. Ever since he emerged in 2011 patten has been an elusive, enigmatic presence. An artist who shuns the spotlight and divulges little about himself. Which is intriguing. It’s a fairly natural trait: as soon as someone doesn.
Even less burred than EOLIAN INSTATE, patten's EP-length Warp debut from 2013, ESTOILE NAIANT continues the "shrouded in mystery" (but photographed) producer's shift toward less challenging collages of abstracted beats and samples. It leads with "Gold Arc" and "Here Always," two of his most accomplished tracks, with layers of texture and buried melodies that seem more sculpted and shaped than haphazardly splashed onto one another. He could strip away some of the clutter -- the harsher, irregular shards of percussion and synthetic handclaps that knock, scrape, and rattle, most active in "Drift," "Winter Strobing," and "Key Embedded" -- to reveal melodic ambient pieces as affecting as those of Heathered Pearls.
patten – ESTOILE NAIANT (Warp Records)Have you ever had an early-morning deadline and made the 1:00 AM decision, “Well, I’ll just stay up all night”? Did you do this on a winter day where a bright sunrise provided no heat, just ocular irritation and a tease of what that big star should be doing? At best, your state of mind is loopy, but you put your best foot forward and press on with an evaporating reality; conversations are wild, often stunted and met with, “Are you okay?” It’s actually kind of fun if you’re not taking a final exam worth 80% of your grade (guilty) or operating a crane. British, semi-anonymous (read: he doesn’t wear a mask, but his biography is cryptic) producer patten makes music that can best be described as blurry and, well, evocative of the experience mentioned above. Genres, tempi, micro and macro aren’t cohesive but more or less agree in a sea of polyrhythm and metric modulation.
“Hierarchy is illusory. Concrete value systems cloud thought and block experience.” So declared patten in response to a pretty straightforward question about the context in which his second album should be heard. I find myself increasingly fascinated by this London producer’s interviews – more so, perhaps, than his music. In that Fader piece he comes across a bit like the class smart aleck who, bored by the pace of the curriculum, decides to make life difficult for everybody else.