patten forgoes abstraction for sharp takes on UK club styles past and present.
The music on patten's fourth album comes from the same lineage as Mumdance's brilliant Shared Meanings mix of last year, and others like Milanese, Vex'd, Various Productions and the Werk axis. They're all people who know that attempts to draw hard boundaries between techno, breakcore, industrial music and the pirate radio / soundsystem styles like jungle, drum & bass, garage and grime only work on paper—not if you're out in the thick of it, experiencing the music and the social connections between people in the wild.
On FLEX, there is almost total abstraction. Take the fluttering noise of "VelvetScans," which surges with the kind of glassy gothic horror synths you'll find in PAN or NON releases, scrambled as if in a blender. And there's stuff that is, as the rave MCs used to say, "strictly for the headstrong." See "Riptide," which sounds like an unholy alliance of Sunn O))) and Venetian Snares. But these extreme tracks are still predicated on the bodily rushes of rave. Even the chaos of "VelvetScans," up close, has the sonic crunch of vintage DJ Trace techstep.
The bulk of the album combines that crunch with absolutely solid grooves. There's trap/drill programming ("Snake Eyes"), '80s-Euro-EBM crawl ("Empathy Index"), grime ("Night Vision"), Metalheadz cybernetic jungle (album highlight "Chimera"), and across about half the album there's a particular industrial two-step vibe that sounds like Burial's strung-out concrète grooves made grimier and more present.
It's this presence—a gnarliness that grabs you by the nerve endings—that brings the whole together. It makes these rhythm patterns far more than just references. It also makes FLEX, for all its smartness and roughness, incredibly satisfying. It's a brilliant illustration of all the hidden conduits and connections between strands of rave culture. But, crucially, it delivers that information in the most immediate and direct way possible, straight to the pleasure centres.