Patron and Patron: Gen

Taub: Bedtime Stories

Patron and Patron's Gen and Taub's Bedtime Stories reveal two sides of Nonine head Me Raabenstein's music-making endeavors. The first outfit's a collaborative venture involving Sakuran (Frederik Van De Moortel) while the second pairs the Berlin-based Raabenstein with Edinburgh-based Harold Nono. Though there are differences between them, both outfits use programming to shape their material into intricate

On the hour-long Gen , Patron and Patron produce a dense brand of jazzy electro-funk with Sakuran's bass and double-bass playing lending an appealing bottom end to the group's multi-tiered swirl. Following an ethereal sample-heavy intro (“We Are Not Alone”), the duo get down to business with “Finding Home Problem,” a subtly swinging exercise in electro-dub atmospherics and looped voices, and the funky “laptop jazz” of “Either Or” which suggests some degree of kinship between Patron and Patron and Burnt Friedman. The duo's music exists halfway between the club stage and the computer lab with propulsive rhythms rubbing shoulders with rich textural colouration throughout. Though “Magenta” works up some of the album's most aggressive viral snarl, the album's most impressive cut may be the titular provocation which merges saxophone playing and varied electronic textures with a slow-moving beat throb. The term “cinematic” is thrown about too often but it legitimately applies here as De Moortel and Raabenstein put a great deal of effort into constructing off-kilter, sci-fi films for the ears (exemplified most uncompromisingly by the congealing, eleven-minute closer “Black Verve”). Even so, beats and rhythm structures are the key ingredients in this context for, without them, the tracks, which are more atmospheric than melodic or emotive, would amount to little more than mildly-captivating soundscaping.

Taub's Bedtime Stories is, not surprisingly, dreamscaping pushed to evocative extremes. A similarly intensive manipulation of material occurs in this context too, with Raabenstein and Nono recording material and then pulling it apart, reconfiguring it, and stitching it back together again with the outcome a fifty-minute travelogue where myriad sounds (strings, piano, guitars, accordion, electric piano, electronics) and broken melodies slip-slide in and out of focus. Ghostly piano melodies haunt “Wild Blue Yonder” and ululating voices, when not sliced into stuttering patter, wail and shudder through “Invalid Bed” while “Backyard Maud the Fraudian Fairy” sounds as disturbed as a stalker sequence in a slasher soundtrack. The bedtime story also must have extremely disturbing for it to have prompted the sickly lurch of “Rouge Absolu” where a mix of sampled film dialogue, drooping strings, and roasted guitar generate nightmarish ambiance. The ultra-woozy “La Ronde at the Top” sounds equally diseased. The pieces that succeed best, however, are those bearing strongly defined structures that the listener can latch onto, one like “Sparkle,” for example, where a recurring string stab establishes a foothold that enables beat elements, clavinet, and electric guitars to leave fleeting traces of their presence. Material such as Bedtime Stories that—by design, presumably—meanders so much desperately needs some amount of ballast to keep the work from feeling like it's floundering.

October 2008