Mike Patton’s previous work scoring a Morricone-esque soundtrack (A Perfect Place), covering themes from movie soundtracks (The Directors Cut), embracing the language and music of other cultures (Anonymous), and crooning (Lovage), all invariably had a deeper purpose: preparation for his most elaborate endeavor to date (which is saying a lot. ) Inspired by time spent in Italy visiting his in-laws and listening to the oldies station there a decade prior, for this project the vocalist extraordinaire performs renditions of cinematic Italian pop songs of the '50s and '60s, all while backed by a 40-piece orchestra, a choir, and a 15-piece band. To add to the grandeur, the recordings are taken from live shows, with the best bits pasted together from a slew of European performances using studio magic.
At first pass Mike Patton's latest project, Mondo Cane (pronounced "mon-doe ka-nay"), is a strange breed. The vocal manipulator's past projects ranged from brutally spastic noise to transcendent minimalism. However, even by his exhaustively eclectic standards, a covers album of Italian songs from the '50s and '60s is difficult to anticipate -- because it is so easy to listen to.Mondo Cane mostly features pop and popular music of Italy's equivalent Greatest and Baby Boomer generations.
The idea of Mike Patton grafting his Bowie warble to Italian golden oldies arranged for a 40-piece orchestra and choir should not surprise anyone. This is a man who has been throwing caution to the wind since the Reagan administration, be it thrashing with Mr. Bungle or Faith No More to screeching alongside John Zorn’s saxophone in Hemophiliac. Patton pretty much carves a niche for himself wherever and whenever he feels like doing so.
You have to give this to Mike Patton: He never runs out of shit to do.As both an underground and mainstream presence, Patton has specialized in being hard to swallow, either through noisemaking irritation (Maldorer), avant juvenilia (Mr. Bungle), one-hit wonder-dom (Faith No More), metallic free-jazz abstraction (Fantômas), lustful hip-hop lounge music (Lovage), or digging into the world of plastic pop (Peeping Tom). As widespread and expansive as music is in terms of culture or genre, it’s possible he’s looking to try it all before his mortality catches up to him.
There’s something of the curio about Mike Patton’s latest record, and in some ways it seems that much of his career post-Faith No More could be construed in similar terms: a series of trinkets to be dragged out for party conversation with the ‘right’ crowds. “Oh, have you heard the new Mike Patton record? … Yeah, well it’s a re-imagining of Fifities and Sixties Italian popular music, featuring a 65-piece orchestra” And although I’d place myself defiantly in the camp of the Patton faithful, who’ll defend his every lurch left or right (and these days, it’s definitely more often left than right), it’s difficult to respond to those who comprehend Patton as something of a dilettante given his furiously varied and numerous output: a dash of furious noise here, a dab of hip hop there, a splash of free jazz to round things off. And that’s without even mentioning the surreal, yet strangely comforting, fact that it was Patton’s vocal chords behind the distorted moans and groans of the zombies in do-no-wrong video game maker Valve’s Left 4 Dead.
Named after the notorious 1962 Italian shockumentary, Mondo Cane presents the latest vehicle for Mike Patton’s post-Faith No More work, some of which has been good, if enigmatic (Fantômas, Tomahawk), and some of which hasn’t (Peeping Tom). The new album features Patton’s careful yet sometimes iconoclastic re-workings of Italian pop songs from the 1950s and 60s, crooned over the skilled contributions of an impressive supporting band. Unlike Patton’s previous forays into the experimentalism of John Zorn or Merzbow, Mondo Cane delivers a more conventional set, heavy on romantic strings and swaying nostalgia.
Former Faith No More frontman interprets Italian pop hits from the 50s and 60s. Stevie Chick 2010 What an utterly unpredictable career Mike Patton has enjoyed. Plucked from obscurity in 1989 to front Faith No More, his first album with the group, The Real Thing, scored commercial success with its hook-laden, brashly absurd rap-rock. Several years of touring later, however, and formerly fresh-faced skater-boi Patton now boasted the ugliest goatee rock has ever known, and was growling, belching and crooning his way through avant-metal bruisers and straight-faced saccharine pop covers, a perverse path Faith No More would maintain until their 1998 split.