The first minute of this record told me everything I needed to know. Dissonant wordless female vocals, comedy muted trumpet (forwards and backwards) and Mike “unlikely to get an unbiased review from me” Patton appears, intoning Italian poetry. If this sounds like a nightmare to you then don’t bother reading the rest of this review. “Part One” continues to accumulate surrealist mass, adding cubist percussion, more shouting voices and coming over like the soundtrack to the Shining but in party mode. Modern classical and jazz are the most tangible references, but clearly Ictus Ensemble are experts at weird without having to rely on Patton, who is actually a thread of sanity in an otherwise insane album. Admittedly I have no idea what he’s saying, and it’s hard for anyone to rapidly shout words in a foreign language at you through a megaphone and still feel like they’re a calming influence, but the manic jazz flute and malevolent Harpy like female choral arrangements make him seem a sane option.
“With Usura, hath no man a house of good stone, With Usura, hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall” are the only words I understand on this album but it didn’t stop me singing along with all the avant-garde female vocalists and I hugely enjoyed copying everything Patton said, so it shouldn’t be an obstacle to your enjoyment of this album. In fact, I like listening to foreign language records because only a small percentage of lyrics ever get beyond bog standard banality, so regardless what he’s saying it sounds ace.
Part 2 spends a lot of it’s time doing a carnival mirror facsimile of jazz but then with the help of some weird electronics morphs into the sound of an entire circus from the year 3000 having a heated argument on Forbidden Planet. Totally fucking mental. If, like me, you enjoy people looking at you with blank pity, take this album to your next house party or open DJ night and play as much of it as you can before you get dragged from the venue.
Go and buy this album http://www.ipecac.com/artists/mike_patton_luciano_berio