Mirages, Hallucinations and Altered Perceptual States

Text by Emily Bick

Photography by Oughtica

Patten's a trickster. His album title GLAQJO XAACSSO reads like a fistful of Scrabble tiles. He hides his face. His lyrics blur like shoegaze slurs; his music syncs with spaced out, mountain landscape visuals and video screen burn. His is a Tumblr aesthetic, cutting out the importance of words and an individual creator. "Screen burn is a nice analogy," he says. "The idea of an after image or echo. Textures as incantations or spells. The point where abstract form turns to pointed, intense trigger - like a perfume. The psychological effects of all of these materials is a real focus. Mirages, hallucinations, altered perceptual states and so on."

GLAQJO XAACSSO may be easy to Google, but its pronunciation and origin are as slippery as its creator's identity. "In music there's the constant possibility of placing as-yet-unnamed, exotic materials into the regular flow of the world," explains patten (who also demands his name be written in lower case). "Strong, purely sensory experiences triggered by entirely constructed phenomena speeding into a pre-linguistic space of thoughts and things felt. With the uttering of new words is the production of new sounds. Subsequently these sounds carve out new spaces in the abstract realm of language for ideas once unthought."

There's a long tradition of artists performing masked or anonymously, from the Residents to Burial. And it dovetails with the ubiquitous collective-Spartacist Guy Fawkes masks of the Occupy movement. It is a refreshing tactic in an age when so many artists spend more of their time on branding and self-promotion than in the studio. Patten's sound has been compared to Actress, although they've played on the same bill, removing any speculation that they are the same person. As for who he isn't: "I'd say, just like the director isn't the movie E.T. and Sir Christopher Wren wasn't St. Paul's, the answer would be, simply, patten. Maybe we're looking at a what rather than a who."

Earlier this year, he created a mix for online magazine Fact. It warped familiar samples that music critics of a certain age would instantly identify (Devo, the Pixies, etc) beyond recognition. This is territory that Hype Williams and Daniel Lopatin have explored over the last year and a half, but patten went further: his mix was the anti-Girl Talk. Was this a response to knee-jerk referencing? And why alter an original sample to the point where listeners need to read an article to pinpoint the original track? Why not start from scratch? "It's interesting to see what existing material could potentially become. Reimagine it through some other kind of prism," patten says. "It's always still there though. In the sub-audible air pressure after a close mic'd studio-recorded kick. In the sullen sigh of a session singer, or the feeling encased in the strum of a long discarded Telecaster. It's still there."

The beats on GLAQJO XAACSSO reference Autechre and the Warp label more directly, yet patten's music still sounds contemporary. It must be a fine line for a producer, to keep an aesthetic that depends on visual collage and sound textures that are linked with particular eras from tipping over into nostalgia. "There's an important difference, it seems, between attitude or 'accent' and the notion of style," he agrees. "When looking at music and the like, certain kinship in attitude can often be sensed unattached to an aesthetic, stylistic synchrony. So "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers can remind you of the Congos without actually being sonically similar at all. How is it that these accents are somehow encoded/encrypted in sounds and images? It's fascinating." §

patten's GLAQJO XAACSSO, and its sister album of revised tracks, EDITS CDR are both out now on No Pain In Pop. He plays across Europe and the UK in Spring 2012.

  • Patten