Lee Bannon Pattern Of Excel

[Ninja Tune; 2015]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: “post-rock,” air-hop, big sky country
Others: Foodman, Eluvium, Co La

Amidst a heatwave, I’m drinking a Ball Jar of lemon water with Lee Bannon’s Pattern To Excel as my tunes. My air conditioner — too small for the square feet of my apartment — buzzes, and I’m compelled to put the volume higher. I hear that Bannon is inspired by Aphex Twin: a lofty name to put into a press release. This intrigues me. “95 Till Infinity” was how I, and perhaps many others, first heard of him, a semi-popular song by the semi-popular Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$. (I lived in Brooklyn for four years and love Joey. I’ll be coming back, to his neighborhood — very soon.)

Lee Bannon’s music, scattered across a myriad of genres, has immense hope and forbearance. I can here the clutter of his bedroom in this record, but I can also see him in a studio, finishing this album up by thinking about how the sounds interact with one another and how to sum them all up. (But hey, he could have made this album in a submarine, for all I know). Most of the tracks branch out into uncharted areas, but only once. He wants his music to be multifarious; he wants to be the club musician, the beat maker, the obscure SoundCloud artist, the indie, the major-label. In addition to these Renaissance Man inclinations, he wants the freedom to experiment, to not be pigeonholed, to be free, to have freedom adorn the outer fringes of his music, falling away like memories of the seasons, no longer a figure of speech but an act, an embodiment, an area where lemons bloom and strawberries are ripe.

So each song, then, is a whole world, a whole map onto itself, a whole turn in the maze, a whole new level in a video game. The songs go about as if unaware of each other’s existence, which sometimes makes them easily forgettable; you have to listen to these tracks more than twice to understand their structure and unfolding. The Aphex Twin reference is perhaps only in regards to Mr. James’s early, ambient work, which fuels tracks like “Paofex” and “kanu.” On those tracks, we have a backdrop of quiet small houses in fenced areas, on cold shady streets, behind cool curtains. It’s music for being a small kid with a baseball bat, trying to rouse the street gang for a game of wiffle ball. It’s music for summertime, with its popsicle and car exhaustion, but also occasionally for winter, with its frozen puddles and haunted perimeters. The music forms a landscape passing way out in the distance, with a sparse thread of bafflement. All of that is translated, with or without intention, into this album: the days, the weariness of the days, gradually getting a little longer, turning out to be one long internet session, everything like that.

Pattern To Excel emerges in fragments, almost painlessly, with every inch of space filled, all the darlings still written. It’s filmic, deliciously chilled, and when it bubbles, those bubbles are large and energetic. He’s shed his hip-hop beat-making self, changing his ambitions, chameleon-like, into — and I say this like as if I discovered a new element — post-rock. Timbres are timbres, like a load of hay. Song are lit, tall, and tallowy. Lee Bannon keeps metamorphosing, and right now he could be miles away from what’s on this album. Maybe a sweeping revision is at hand. Maybe not. Maybe there’s a 1 terabyte hard drive in his book bag that contains music that will surface 60 years from now in cassette tapes on the streets of Queens. Or maybe Lee Bannon, playing the part of a magician, will unload new iterations that comprise his ambition, his name only being a sum of stranded parts, like a Frank Zappa or a John Cage.

Links: Lee Bannon - Ninja Tune

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