Review: Patricia – Side Piece EP (Spectral Sound)

Even falling back on such stillborn yet fashionable labels as ‘Outsider House’ or ‘Wonky Techno’ the output of Patricia is all but impossible to place, which means that anyone coming to the music of Brooklyn based Max Ravitz are going to have to think for themselves for a change, rather than rely on what some old sod like me tells them to think. Yes, there are definite strands of thought and sound that echo what is to be found in the work of Huerco S, say, or Ravitz’s stable-mates on Opal Tapes, but for the most part Patricia exists purely on its own terms, seemingly indifferent to even the most kindred of music trends.

The Side Piece EP, on Ghostly International offshoot Spectral Sound, counts as the first real material from Ravitz under the Patricia banner since last years mind-blowing Body Issues LP on Opal Tapes. Since then there have been a smattering of remixes and a release on the world eating L.I.E.S as Inhalents (with Jahiliyya Fields) but little from the main act itself.

Side Piece, I want to point out right now, is not a continuation of the singularity stretched protean grooves of Body Issues. Well, not entirely. Where that album was an expansive yet introspective trip through collapsing hinterlands of sound and texture, Side Piece is distinctly more focussed, as if there have been new ways of doing things introduced during those sessions with the likes of Fields. Anyone who witnessed Patricia’s set on The Boiler Room a few months back and marvelled at the way those blurred sounds were re-engineered into snarling, rough hewed jackers will find Side Piece a record alive with newly discovered possibilities. It shifts itself in ways that would have seemed alien in its predecessor, out-of-place amongst the oceanic swell of ferric soaked synths.

Drip Dawn manages a rare trick in being both upfront, stomping House and utterly bonkers at the same time. Propelled by a woozy, seasick riff, the thing hangs together below an alkaline spray of static and pounds along like a demented central European fairy tale where the goblin gets the girl that’s been set to music. If half the tracks on Body Issues could be seen as the embodiment of a grand aural gesture which attempted to retool the symphonic nature of Techno, then Drip Dawn is an opportunity to screw with the conventions of straight up club ready House Its charm lies in how far it goes before the weirdness gets a grip.

Hulderhusan comes closer to both Body Issues tones and those of classic Techno, the lush solar flare riding pads even recalling the Aphex Twin in his glory days. The beats, though, are snarling pit bulls that thrive on their vicious abrasiveness. It is angry music, though with much beauty, but with an underlying simplicity that catches you as the tune draws to a close, letting in a welter of diffuse bass that fades away into the ether a moment before it overpowers you.

Foie Gras is perhaps the most accessible of the four tunes here, and may well be the best. It pitches down the speed, introducing a slinkiness accentuated by fluttering hi-hats and a bopping bass before a crawling acid line slowly eats its way through any resistance. It has the feel of classic acid Techno but, like so much else on the record, that vibe is only an echo in the distance and the most superficial of colouring on Patricia’s torn canvas.

JTC’s I-94 Lick mix of Drip Dawn undertakes a fairly unenviable task in moulding the originals slanted grind into something more recognizably Housey. That it is mostly a success says much of the remixers art, but amongst the other three broken-eyed children it looks something of a distant cousin. Nevertheless it polishes the raw material and introduces a wonderfully off-kilter lead that matches the originals demented meanderings whilst never loosing sight of the floor. A euphoric builder for a club sinking in a radioactive swamp.