This ‘Lee Bannon’ article was written by Oliver Holt, a GIGsoup contributor
Lee Bannon’s Pattern of Excel will be his last release before adopting the moniker ¬b (meaning ‘not Bannon’) and you could be forgiven for thinking the record wasn’t actually made by him. His admiration of producers able to successfully change styles is evident in his public accreditation of Rick Rubin, and Bannon’s second album places him firmly into this esteemed category. Rising to prominence making beats for Joey Bada$$ and the pro era crew, Bannon’s first individual release, Alternate/Endings, left hip-hop behind and masterfully conquered the genre of jungle. Pattern of Excel once more see’s Bannon embark on an entirely new auditory journey, confirming his place amongst those who are willing and able to transcend the boundaries of genre whilst consistently producing exceptional music. In an interview with VICE Bannon admits that Pattern of Excel is the product of selfishness, music that he wants to make. Crediting Aphex Twin as a significant influence, it is easy to hear the vibe of records such as Selected Ambient Works 85-92 throughout, and the record’s brilliance is a fantastic indicator of the pleasure Bannon took in producing this record.
A running theme of the LP appears to be water: the album opens with the sound of a splash; the album artwork is a swimmer breaking the surface and the final track is called Towels. Pattern of Excel provides an aural experience equivalent to looking up through the surface of a still pool from underneath; despite the potential chaos above the surface, you are motionless, supported, weightless and, most importantly, calm. This serenity is evident in Shallowness is the root of all evil, a song that sounds like it could drop at any moment, but doesn’t. There is no audible crescendo. Nevertheless Shallowness leaves the listener satisfied, and Bannon’s ability to create climax sans-crescendo is consistent throughout the record in its entirety. Songs sound in a constant state of build, merging into one another seamlessly, carrying you the whole way through the LP on a wave of tranquillity; a wave that never breaks but nevertheless brings you to shore. The only potential break from this calm, Inflatable, jerks the listener out of their trance, but apparently only to ensure attention is paid to the mellifluous melody of Disneμ Girls. Immediately taking the listener back into an ambient calm, Disneμ Girls sounds like Bannon dancing with your ears. Confirming the depth of the album, each time the song is listened to is as if the dance is slightly different, faster, slower, in a different place, as new aspects of Bannon’s production are discovered and ones already found repeatedly appreciated.
The depth of its simplicity is the real genius of the album. Bannon’s music, calm and still, is layered with a multitude of sounds and experiences. Each time the record is listened to is a new experience, new segments of songs beg for, and deserve, attention from the audience. Almost as a tease, the final track on the standard version of the record, Towels, has a somewhat emergent feel to it, sounding more like a beginning than an end. Considered alongside Bannon’s proven ability to produce top-drawer music in any genre he has attempted, one can only assume that the freedom found in abandoning his previous name will allow ¬b to continue to add to his growing reputation.
‘Pattern of Excel’ is out now on Ninja Tune. The full track-listing for the album is…
‘Good / Swimmer’
‘Shallowness is the root of all evil’
‘DAW in the Sky for Pigs’
‘Inflatable (Sequence 2) – Bonus Track