Patterns for Smartness provides a perfect example of something we’ve been talking about for weeks: the alluring cover. One look at that art and we knew we wanted to review the album ~ we just had to listen to be sure that the music was worthy of coverage, and it is!
The album represents a sort of homecoming for Spanish musician Mikel Martínez (aitänna77), who over the past decade has taken a long, strange journey from electronic music to lyric-based pop and back again. Patterns for Smartness offers the sort of bright, laid-back hip-hop heard in related artists such as Snuise and nahsolo. By the end of “To New Horizons,” we’re already relaxed. The rest of the album unfolds in a similarly languid fashion, like a couch filled with pillows in a scented suite. There’s a little (unnecessary) smoke lingering around the corners of “Pot Kids,” but apart from that, the set flows comfortably from start to finish.
When looking at the cover, one thinks about those new horizons: a boy on a very secure swing (look at those metal links!), suspended at the top of his arc. aitänna77 successfully captures the feeling of open skies, of futures unwritten and possibilities unseen. A very light narrative accompanies the album, as short spoken word samples add texture to the already colorful tracks. The most effective sample can be found on lead single, “Everything Goes Wrong,” as a rueful child complains, “I try to do the right thing. Lots of times it won’t make any difference. I try to do the right thing, but everything goes wrong.” We have all felt this way from time to time. The twist is that the artist’s soothing beats and sanded loops intimate a brighter future; this is simply a phase of life that the young man must pass through. The slow yet hopeful “Arise and Shine” (64 b.p.m.) offers muted chimes and a sweet sonic crackle; one day these youthful anxieties will be but a memory. (Richard Allen)