At Patten’s recent Somewhere Else appearance I had my first encounter with this exciting artist. His glitchy Dj-edit set was as interesting as it was enjoyable. All to happy to please the dancing enthusiast with kicks and snares, he also constantly moulded sonic tapestries by stringing samples together, overlapped with effects. I tried to get a glimpse of is working process, but the crowd dancing in the front were too dense and my only choice was to acquiesce my progress in the hope of finding more of the same through his recordings. To my surprise the artist not only had an album out, but was due to release another in the coming week. Estoile Naiant follows up from GLAQJO XAACSSO, as Patten’s second unpronounceable album. In a recent Fader interview Patten informs us “the term ESTOILE NAIANT was made using a medieval language called Heraldic Blazon. The language itself evolved to precisely describe the images that combine to form a coat of arms. So the LP title essentially leads to a very clear image. That image in an oblique way sketches out something about how this and other records might be looked at. It’s like a prism to approach it through.”
Image is an important word here. This album does infer an image, but only in the most abstract manner possible. From the title to the art work there is never any clear distinction in the source-cause associations that the listener could apply and that is made abundantly clear in another interview with Dummymag. When prompted by the interviewer’s surprise over the artist’s use of guitar and the lack of being able to draw a straight line of relation between the sound and its origins, Patten simply answered with this question; “Do you think that’s important?” Is it indeed? For most of Estoile Naiant the London based producer, weaves a quilt of sonic improbabilities from various sources. Abstracting even the most finite details, each part becomes a component in a much bigger construction. Much like “the images that combine to form a coat of arms”. Tracks like Softer and Winter Strobing work in the same way as a gamelan ensemble would when each player plays his/her own unique rhythm to form new rhythms as a single group. No, one part takes the central focus but rather makes just another thread in the sonic atmosphere the listener gets enclosed under. Even the beat in Pathways is quickly decentred to form only the basis of the overall texture. Patten produces on a vertical axis of space more than the temporal one on a horizontal plain for all of Estoile Naiant.
There are similarities to other artist working in the same idiom. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Oneothrix Point Never when coming face to face with a track like 23-45, and could indicate something of a trend when we realise they feature on the same label. But like the start of any trend, I don’t see this as a case of conscious conformation but rather more of innovative thinking. Any association 23-45 is quickly thwarted when the texture of the song develops through its structural course and quickly loses any resemblance to OPN. All tracks have an intent focus on building contrapuntal rhythmical motifs in the grand scheme of making increasingly new rhythmical possibilities from the results. Obscuring once again any relative associations from their origins for focus on the universal.
On Agen for instance, the phasing hi-hats and vocal sample only peak in and out of its surroundings intermittently as the track develops in its entirety. You are never incited to supplant the rhythmical characteristics of the singular in favour of the collective. A simple bass riff, a synthesised flute all feature and at the same time they don’t. On Here Always where we find an undisguised guitar moulding perfectly with glitched tweaks from a demi-semiquaver hi-hat loop. It is not to suggest that all these tracks share a similar result either. There are beat driven moments like Drift that could feature easily in Patten’s edit set, but still conform to the overall effect that the whole album embodies. The beat only opens up the track before the texture swallows it up. Nothing takes centre stage as the song develops along its temporal axis building its spatial volume.
It’s a remarkable album, and I enjoy listening to it again and again picking up new parts on every listen without ever obscuring the overall effect. You don’t get lost in a particular hook or motif but rather the comforting sonic blanket that they create together. Estoile Naiant is definitely the highlight of 2014 so far for me, and it has been brought to my attention that Patten will soon be touring this album with a live show. I look forward to whatever this artist brings to the table in the future.