- Lee Bannon will not be pigeonholed. After making his name as a hip-hop producer with soulful beats for the Pro Era crew, the Sacramento native turned heads in 2013 when he signed to Ninja Tune and released one of the best jungle albums in years. His solo work has pivoted around ambient, jungle, hip-hop and post-rock, with his gothy aesthetics binding it all together. On his third album, he stretches his style to its limits—Pattern Of Excel is undoubtedly his weirdest work yet. It's a sprawling collection of fragments united only by mood, like a bunch of half-finished ideas mashed together into an album.
With its short attention span and incoherent sequencing, Pattern Of Excel isn't all that different from beat tapes by other hip-hop producers. But Bannon's weird sketches draw from his wide-ranging influences and abilities, and aren't pinned down by boom-bap drums. This is the same producer who toured with hardcore punks Trash Talk and worked with the drummer from Anthrax, after all. Pattern Of Excel shoots off in all directions with the unfocused excitement of someone who likes any kind of music they can get their hands on: hallucinatory electronics ("Artificial Stasis"), near-orchestral fanfares ("Memory 6") and simplistic lo-fi recordings that sound like old rehearsal tapes found in a basement ("Shallowness Is The Root Of All Evil"), among other oddities.
The most memorable moments are the ones that jostle you out of Bannon's free-floating daydream. "Inflatable" is the sole return to jungle impulses, with breaks that fly in staggered bursts and feel more violent than anything on Alternate/Endings. "Disneµ Girls," a Lynchian slide-guitar ditty that finds enormous resonance in a single melody, is surprising for its stark simplicity. It's completely out of place on Pattern Of Excel, and yet is all the more alluring for it.
Pattern Of Excel is an odd and occasionally confusing album that makes even past eccentricities like Never/Mind/The/Darkness/Of/It... seem straightforward by comparison. That said, it's not unapproachable. Pattern Of Excel succeeds during those little moments that capture Bannon's way with mood and melody. Bannon's said that this LP will be the last under his given name, which makes it seem more important than it really is. It's not a career-defining statement or the end of an era—just one more milestone on his long, strange trip.
01. Good / Swimmer
02. Artificial Stasis
04. Suffer Gene
06. Shallowness Is The Root Of All Evil
11. DAW In The Sky For Pigs
12. Disneµ Girls
14. Memory 6