- by Justin Pearson Rating:7 Release Date:2016-09-16 Label: Warp
London based electronic duo patten continue to serve up unique, abstract textures and oblique melodies on third effort Ψ (greek symbol Psi), but with a more focused, futuristic/space-age bent this time around.
Billed as “deconstructed club music” by the Warp label, the band explained further their creative process for the album: "There were atmospheres, palettes and textures we were interested in looking at and distilling on Ψ - like the grinding city sounds of Industrial music, the bass weight of UK dance's Hardcore Continuum, the emotive drive of 80s Goth, the techy weirdness of current pop music like Rihanna, the sonics of modern club like Grime, Footwork and Techno. We wrote in a very open way, allowing these elements to naturally interact in what we were doing."
Similar to Iranian artist Ash Koosha’s recent release I AKA I, Ψ feels invitingly unfamiliar. But rather than subtly flirt with solid form as that album does, in this structurally-specific distant future, melodies feel programmed to be “almost”, rather than rising from an organic sense of experimentation that might lead to an actual “song.” Instead of detracting from its appeal it enhances it, giving the listener a glimpse of what could be, the possible result being derived from the individual’s own expectations while listening to it.
Known only by one letter, lead vocalist A’s indecipherable lyrics are largely delivered in monotone across the album, mixing well with the conflicting sounds and commanding bass of ‘Locq’, their incantation-like nature summoning the spirit of an outer darkness. ‘Sonne’ continues this spell with bright, twinkling synths that provide a shiny backdrop to the crunchy bass ping-ponging around the track.
‘Used 2 b’ swirls with confusion, proudly owning an apt title for the album’s aesthetic, its remnants scattered and moving independent of the previous whole that it once was. ‘True Hold’ and ‘Pixacao’ are also disordered, but anchored by assuredness, the latter’s earthly harpsichord-ish sound grounding it just enough.
Speaking to the impenetrable force of the album is ‘The Opaque.’ A’s electronically processed voice is prominent here, bolstered by stuttering, glintzy beats. It comes off as somewhat flat, but the nervous energy makes it interesting enough to want to see through the sonic wall it builds. More intriguingly so, ‘Blade’ employs smeared synths to create a landscape of haze, blurring the focus while bass-drops bounce around, competing for attention.
Ψ scans as a transmission from far away, intent on a maximal jarring effect upon one’s present sense of surroundings. It doesn’t quite translate as efficiently or immediately as one would like – sometimes not at all - but that’s exactly where the intrigue (and challenge) lies.
Great review. I'm going to have a listen