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. But there’s a distinct approach present in patten’s method, something more psychedelically extreme, manifesting as a paranoid composition and a gargantuan musical language.
But it becomes clear that this isn’t the maximalism of composers past or contemporary. It’s as far removed from Rustie’s Glass Swords or the “bro-step” cosmos as it is from Charles Ives’ or Conlon Nancarrow’s bizarre reformations of the “ensemble” sound. This is because patten’s combinations aren’t complex due to mass or excess; they’re inherently baffling and intense from the significant disparity of the parts combined, as layers of precisely mismatched drums and synths on “Drift” appear to bend with the strain of their combination.
That said, it’s not as if what patten does lacks a logical approach, far from it. There’s a palpable and affecting richness to the simple melodies that snake throughout this labyrinthine chaos, like the detuned guitar line on “Here always.” This, coupled with the shuffling, whirring percussion and warm synthesizers that moan in and out of time, key, and space (“Agen,” “23-45”), lend a towering sculptural quality to the creations. They’re miles from the grand, decaying structures of Actress or the mystic new-age developments of Oneohtrix Point Never; they’re more heady, surreal, and bizarre. The residual images that flicker and distort are arrays of indeterminate vaporous facades that shudder and bump through the aural landscape.
Perhaps direction is lacking on moments in ESTOILE NAIANT, but for the most part, patten has harnessed the objects of previous releases and refined them. The more intense ideas brought into play are managed with a control and efficiency alongside more simple, straightforward textures to bridge the abstraction with clarity, revealing not a desolate, scientific assemblage of fashionable sounds, but a chaotic, demanding beauty. patten determines that beauty can be found within unlikely sites, within abstraction, and the depths that one hides this beauty in can make its exhumation all the more revelatory.