Mike Patton and Ictus Ensemble
Released: Monday 2 July 2012
When Faith No More officially disbanded in 1998, I never thought I'd get to see them live. Fourteen years later I am stood anxiously in the Hammersmith Apollo awaiting their entrance. Support act Guana Padano are on stage playing instrumental music that wouldn't be completely out of place on a Spaghetti Western, when suddenly a chorus of gasps herald the arrival of Mr Mike Patton. Just like that - one of my favourite singers on the face of the Earth, whom I've never managed to catch live - there. With a wave of his hand, Patton shushes the gushing crowd.
This sums up Mike Patton quite neatly for me. I had ascribed so much weight to the moment I'd eventually be blessed with his presence and he quells all the pomp with a minor gesture. He was there to sing his song - enough with the histrionics. That he was doing so with yet another collaborator, whom I'd previously never heard of, was entirely in keeping with the Renaissance man mould he has grown to inhabit over the years. Many critics like to apply the label of 'chameleon' for Patton before vaulting into the roll-call of accomplices he has conspired with. Let's not buck the trend. We have, among many, many more: Mr Bungle; Faith No More; Fantomas; Tomahawk; Peeping Tom; X-ecutioners; John Zorn; Mondo Cane; Lovage and Bjork.
This brings us to Patton's latest collaboration and indeed release, Laborintus II. The record is released via Ipecac Records, a label Patton founded and now runs. This begs the question - does Mike Patton have a watch that stops time? Does he operate on 48 hour days? I struggle to mow the lawn and cook tea some days. Even more astonishing is the fact that Patton doesn't ever dial it in either. Listen to this - on Laborintus II, Patton is in cahoots with Belgian dadaists the Ictus Ensemble. The record is their take on Luciano Berio's composition from back in 1965, which is itself based on the poetry of Communist Dante scholar Edoardo Sanguineti. Patton isn't just filling out his canon with stock poppycock. He's taking on a piece of theatre which is essentially a critique of the commodification of the world. I feel lazy.
So what does it sound like? Well, I've been struggling with that. Bit of a bugger really seeing as that's my job. A word of warning though; don't pop this cheeky little number onto your iPod and settle into bed with it. Alone. Late at night. In the dark. The composition is split into three parts. 'Part One' opens with shrill female vocals which wail away, almost violently, while Patton delivers some Italian incantations.
Muted trumpets stab at the spaces, building an intimidating terseness to proceedings. Numerous brass instruments honk entirely exclusive of each other before woodblocks clunk and flutes zip past, leading you one way before pulling you by the wrist another. In 'Part Two' it all gets even more unwieldy and Miles Davis-like, with Patton's voice chanting like a maniacal preacher man before reverting back to more restrained spoken moments. By comparison, 'Part Three' almost shuffles out to its close with the percussion finally deciding to simmer to rest.
Overall, Laborintus II is a bubbling deluge of avant-garde jazz chaos which I can only really liken to Bitches Brew. Patton has expressed an interest in scoring David Lynch movies and this would have served Lost Highway very well in my opinion. It's one thing to applaud Mike Patton's bravery for opting to affect so many diverse guises, but the fact is that no matter what he turns to, he is consistently brilliant.