There is surely no greater joy in life than being given an advance copy of the new Mike Patton album ? If there is I don’t know what it might be. This album has arrived as a complete surprise to me,and as my finger alights on the play button I wonder which Mike Patton will it be ?
The album opens with “Il Cielo In Una Stanza” …rumbling thunder and mildly sinister strings bring portents of evil. Maybe this is another Delirium Cordia ? Oh … hang on what’s this ? Mike’s singing in Italian. And if I’m not mistaken he’s been possessed by Phil Spector. It appears from this first song that we’re getting lothario crooner Patton this time around. And on the evidence of this first song that’s not a bad thing at all.
“Che Notte” is a slice of Sixties psychedelia meets film noir. Imagine Patton doing incidental music for the Keystone Cops… all vaudeville piano and duck whistles and bongos and trumpets … crazy but a lot of fun. “Ore D’Amore” is like the theme tune from a cheap knock-off of a Bond film, and despite not knowing a word of Italian I am fighting an urge to sing along in an overly dramatic fashion.
“Deep Down” is another short, but sweet, piece of movie music. It is actually kind of a pleasure to hear Mike just sing without a single gibber, screech or moan anywhere to be heard. Part of me is afraid to relax because I am expecting some “Adult Theme For Human Voice” -style madness to erupt at any moment. “Quello Che Conta” is spaghetti western through and through, the kind of bombastic ballad that would work nicely with footage of craggy-faced men, chewing cigars on horseback, while the women-folk weep. “Urlo Negro” finally shatters the calm with a lo-fi tribal intro that might be played by punk rock American Indians on the warpath, before turning into an aggressive and slightly sci-fi piece of surf music.
“Scalinatella” opens with footsteps and some flamenco guitar before gently taking shape as an acoustic lullaby that is mainly pretty but slightly twisted. “L’Uomo Che Non Sapeva Amare” is a little like an off-cut from the “A Perfect Place” soundtrack, which suddenly makes me realize that this album isn’t quite as unprecedented as I first thought, but is actually sort of a progression from that soundtrack, at least conceptually if not in terms of sound. “20 KM al Giorno” opens with the inimitable sound of the Jews harp leading us on the audio equivalent of a sweaty bus journey, with Mike as our gurning, salacious conductor. One of my favourite tracks on the album so far.
“Ti Offro Da Bere” is short and sweet like everything else on the album being reminiscent of a distant cousin of “To Dream The Impossible Dream”… but in the seventies with a big moustache. And so, in an impossibly short time, we come to the last track “Senza Fine” is a husky, violin-led waltz which bids farewell to the listener by grabbing your hand and kissing slowly but passionately all the way up the back of your arm…whether you want it to or not.
I don’t know if this is an album of Mike Patton originals or covers of movie themes, or what it is, but it is the first album he has ever done that you could play to your Mum or girlfriend and they would actually like it. They might even love it. A perfect summer pop record. From Mike Patton. What is going on ?