Release Date: Sep 16, 2016
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Experimental Techno, Experimental Electronic, IDM
It was not too long ago that a certain brand of popular music staked a kind of exclusivity. It was one justified on the pretense of a sort of esotericism, but, really, its association was defined, predictably, by the finite reaches of normative typology of difference. Miscegenation was anathema: melodic sensibility too feminine, too vulgar; overt rhythm too black.
Known simply by as "D" and "A," patten have long been at the forefront of innovative and experimental electronic music. They've refused to remain stagnant, instead choosing to pivot their sound in different directions with each new release. Their latest album, ? (pronounced "Psi," after the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet), is the group's second release on Warp Records following 2014's ESTOILE NAIANT.
Psi is London-based patten's third full-length, second for Warp, and first since becoming a duo rather than a solo project (the two artists refer to themselves only as D and A). Compared to previous patten releases, this one strips away some of the haze, resulting in something much tighter and more focused than the blown-out, sideways-glancing abstract techno of prior albums GLAQJO XAACSSO and ESTOILE NAIANT. The switch from cluttered, tinny textures to a more bass-centric sound and more spacious sonic arrangements might be a bit jarring to anyone familiar with those albums, but ultimately it's a welcome change, as this album contains some of patten's strongest material.
How much wonky do you like in your IDM? If the answer is a lot, or some, or as much as you can get, then you will dig the new Patten record, ?, which follows 2014’s ESTOILE NAIANT. A universe all to itself, the LP—whose title is pronounced “psi”, like the Greek symbol—finds the grandchildren of Richard James creating rich places to explore and confusingly endearing moments to hide in. The opening track, “Locq”, demands you enter its universe.
Symbolism can be tricky in electronic music. Within such an amorphous mode of expression, even cogent metaphors or allusions can seem like non sequiturs. This could be why avant-garde groups like Matmos or Babyfather work with tangible themes, or why certain experimental club artists use imagined narratives largely for aesthetics. patten, the two London-based artists known only as A and D, go beyond simple, single-serving concepts.
Patten '?' (Warp Records)Patten’s third LP isn’t your average summer party album. But then, summer 2016 hasn’t been your average summer. Blending elements of grime, footwork, techno, industrial and more, the UK duo has created an at times claustrophobic and unnerving (yet always compelling) LP that seems to perfectly soundtrack our uncertain times.