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Psi
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  • 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. The sporadic, mutated beats are influenced by grime, footwork, and the deconstructed club sounds of labels like Fade to Mind and PAN, and they're often punctuated by the sounds of smashing glass, static bursts, rapid edits, glitches, and other interruptions. As warped and fractured as the album sounds, the addition of A's vocals frame the songs in more of a pop context. Granted, her vocals are still a bit distorted, and the lyrics are often fragmentary and delivered in a flat monotone, so this isn't anywhere close to mainstream pop (even though the duo acknowledge Rihanna as an influence). D's garbled, distorted vocals previously appeared on some patten songs, but they only surface on "Yyang" here. As obscured as the vocals and lyrics are, they still serve to humanize the music. The lyrics are printed in the album's packaging, and they express fear and uncertainty, but also an odd sense of self-discovery and even encouragement. The album strikes a good balance between immediacy and abstraction, with beats and bass tones that grab the listener's attention and several other layers of meaning and aural details that require deeper examination. As with any patten release, it takes a few listens to wrap your head around what they're doing, but taking the effort to decode their work proves to be incredibly rewarding. ~ Paul Simpson
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