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It's difficult to restrict producer Lee Bannon to a single, quantifiable metric. First winning coverage as a jobbing beat maker for Joey Bada$$ - Pro-Era, his contributions were engagingly skewed, tailor-made for the rapper's oddball, stylised delivery. Check back through his early discography and you find a wealth of excellent instrumental hip-hop, with silly '80/'90s TV samples and half swampy, half shiny grooves. The two Big Toy Box collections are filled with short, funky jams that belie his more recent evolutions. Bannon has since proven that he wants to be a renaissance man.

The first major transformation came with the self-released drum 'n' bass collection NW/WB, which suggested that his earlier efforts were highly charged feints, or at least that he had for some time been prepping a side line passion-project in frantic electronica. Having spent so much time putting together this complex, twisted record, it was hard to see him wanting to turn his back on that level of activity again. Then the beginning of 2014 saw Alternate / Endings, a third strand of development that edged closer to ambience. So what exactly is going on in Lee Bannon's head?

Pattern of Excel doesn't take us down another wholly new path. Compared to the early instrumentals or the drum 'n' bass it forms something of a mid-point between the sleepier moments of each, with the strongest echo recalling the 2013 EP Never/Mind/The/Darkness/Of/It. Drums are notable by their absence. For an artist who has luxuriated in off-kilter breakbeats, aside from the frenetic 'inflatable' there is barely a drum pattern to be heard. In place of traditional beats we get squelches of ambient noise that drive tracks, with pops and rhythmic coughs to delineate sequences. Rather than the ear-hammering we've been trained to expect, the narrative of Pattern of Excel is contained within a loosely familiar dusty vinyl noise.

'DAW in the Sky for Pigs' is the most enjoyable of these sound pieces. The song is a lovingly assembled melange of piano tracks which meet and diverge from the central focus of an almost romantic ballad melody. More tuneful in substance than anything else on the album, it holds the attention for longer than most other pieces as well, which can be dogged by a sense of the throw-away. Bear in mind that this is a guy who often releases two or three collections a year. Quality control has to be practically mesmeric if you're willing to tie yourself to that level of output. A traditional 'full' album may be a dying art-form these days, but it at least provides an artist with the kind of challenge that a beat-tape doesn't.

In the end, however he is reforming himself and however much he's pushing out, Bannon is always an engaging presence. Even where his pieces feel unscripted and accidental, they all manage to paint a doomy melancholy which has a filmic charm. Like Ninja Tunes' Lorn, in his best moments there is humour and horror in equal measure - see the gloopy reimagining of the intro to Underworld's King of Snake that begins the record. Whatever he decides to do next, you suspect we won't have to wait long.

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