- patten's aesthetic—freeform composition, nonsense song titles, collage-style sleeve designs—has become so impenetrable that he's starting to sound like some lost casualty of '90s IDM. Maybe it's appropriate that he's ended up on Warp, the original home for all that stuff. His latest album, ESTOILE NAIANT, fits that bill more snugly than ever, taking the neurotic fidget of late '90s Autechre and painting it with a palette of pastels. The result feels lighter and more inviting than 2011's GLAQJO XAACSSO, but also less original.
With sunny opener "Gold Arc," it's obvious we're in more melodic territory. Still thickly psychedelic throughout, the beats on ESTOILE NAIANT shake and slam, with harder sounds (like the industrial hum-and-buzz on "Drift") keeping the songs from floating away entirely. Most of them, anyways—"Softer" is all the more effective for its fleeting qualities, dipping in and out of lo-fi submersion. patten still has a sense of adventure (consider the trap riffing on "Agen") but for the most part he roams in the comfort of the past rather than seeking out new climes. The endless Boards Of Canada-isms figure ESTOILE NAIANT as another identikit entry in the recent wave of nostalgic electronics and dreamy cloud-rap atmospherics, and the fiercely independent streak that made GLAQJO XAACSSO so exciting in the first place is curiously absent.
It's not the worst thing in the world, but that feeling of well-worn familiarity makes ESTOILE NAIANT more anaesthetic than stimulating. As with all of patten's music, the album throws everything at the wall to see what sticks. Unfortunately, his typically weird shapes have become just a little too rounded, and the edges just a little too smooth, for any of it to really stick. ESTOILE NAIANT is perfectly pleasant while it’s playing, but you might not remember it so well afterwards.
01. Gold Arc
02. Here always
04. Winter Strobing
08. Key Embedded