“Shouty shouty…rant rant…It’s all shit…I hate the Tories.” Not to simplify an entire style of expression, but spoken word can often descend towards that sorta tiring one dimensional shtick. More intent on obnoxiously blaring the listener’s own views back at them, with the potential of the form being thoroughly abused.
One dimensional is a near impossible accusation to level at Pattern Man’s self-titled debut album/book – a collaborative effort between the poet Rick Holland and scatty techno outfit Chrononautz (Dom Clare and Leon Carey). Incorporating a significant emphasis on improvisation, the project is a collaboration in the truest sense, with a crucial co-dependence being formed between each member, this trust allowing for a wholehearted embrace of disorder.
Pattern Man fittingly starts the album off; a miasma of dislocated synth and bass, with flailing buzzsaw sounds wildly escalating around Holland’s words. The potent, swaggering music continues on Dressed Head, processed guitars fracturing the mix, a style reminiscent of Keith Levene’s scathing playing, purposefully tinny but piercing, hell bent on exploring the intrusive.
However uninhabitable the surroundings manifest themselves as, Hollands’ vocal tone remains a constant. Through displays the project’s musical half at its most belligerent, yet again Holland persists with his placid, coolly detached utterances. His voice almost resembling the soothing tones of a relaxation tape – admittedly paired with words and music that could lull only the baby in Eraserhead to sleep.
In an interview for The Quietus, Holland pondered that the practice of “presenting words in different contexts” may be a key facet of his creative process, “allowing them to work physically on you rather than functionally.” The influence of jungle MCs was also discussed, Pattern Man actually baring more relation to this idea than you may expect. A perfect example – and one which also articulates the physicality of language – can be found on the lines “who are these MCs? I don’t understand what they’re saying, but it rains dancing feet when they speak”.
Mosquatino Story concludes the album with some of its most vivid lines. The narrative concluding with fragmentary propositions like “It’s either mastery or madness, and either one will free me.” These striking lines show Holland at his most interpretable, at other moments on the album seemingly random words will be employed, either for the effect of it’s sound or for their cumulative power. Like Mark E Smith, Holland understands the power of words within the context of music, playing a different function and having an entirely different impact when printed upon paper. Pattern Man should be played alongside eMMplekz’s Rook To TN34; 2016 seemingly the year for atypical, spoken word/electronic explorations.
Words by Eden Tizard