By now everyone is familiar with "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," that fun movie trivia game that is ever-so-often used as a conversation stimulator. Well I plan to create a variation of the game for the music industry, "Six Degrees of Mike Patton." Why? Simple, Patton has ties with notable artists in nearly every genre of music: metal, hip hop, pop, jazz, country, noise, electronica, etc... And now movie film scores can be added to that list as Romances marks his collaboration with Norwegian film-music composer John Kaada. I often wonder what inspires musicians to delve into these type of left-of-center projects. It is possible that Ipecac's re-releasing of Kaada's debut solo effort partnered with Patton's role in the upcoming thriller-drama Firecracker played a role.
Romances begins with the eerie "Invocations," perhaps an homage to early horror film scores. While Kaada's music is very reminiscent of 1950's thrillers like Vertigo, Patton harmonizes in a variety of equally off-kilter vocalizations. "Pitié Pour Mes Larmes" is a slight departure, with moments venturing towards the pop music spectrum. At times it even bears resemblance to material found on Mr. Bungle's California, in particular, the elements that knock off The Beach Boys. Yet while maintaining its pop sensibility, the music is still very adventurous and off the beaten path.
Kaada again takes his focus to influential movie scores on the track "Aubade." This one reminded me quite a bit of The Godfather, portions of the song are similar to the main theme. Meanwhile, Patton demonstrates his vocal range on this track; everything from his distinctive crooning to those schizophrenic screams. With a voice as articulate as his, it really shouldn't be a surprise he receives so many accolades, from fans and critics. Further evidence can be found in the melody-line of "L'absent." Patton's voice compliments the lively music perfectly; I often found myself whistling along to Patton's sweet melodies.
On "Seule," the use of a playful organ partnered with Patton's "soft-voice" fixed images of movie scenes in my mind; bizarre images that would appear in the works of David Lynch: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Muholland Drive come to mind specifically. So it isn't a surprise that comparisons have also been made to Fantômas, in particular The Director's Cut. But unlike the critically acclaimed release that documented interpretations of classic film scores, Romances is less visceral and chaotic. Instead it is more subdued, structured and melodic.
While "Pensee Des Morts" marks a return to the disjointed dramatic tone, the album's closer, "Nuit Silencieuse" rounds things out with a morbid mood, personifying the culmination of the album perfectly.
The layout and design of the album is simple. Avoiding the extravagant, Ipecac again used a foldable cardboard sleeve, similar to that of the Tomahawk debut. Covering the exterior and interior are tastefully placed images of jellyfish, all in a black ink that contrast the brown of the cardboard. This gives the artwork a great feel that only adds to the aura of the album.
Obviously, those that are collectors of everything Mike Paton will purchase Romances. But for those of you outside of the realm of those that adore Patton's works, I highly recommend purchasing Romances because it truly is one of the most intriguing albums to be put on in the past few years. It's time to break the monotony of the stagnant music industry, and this album is a key component.
9.0 / 10
John Erik Kaada and Mike Patton. Two great tastes that taste great together. It's been twelve long years since the pair released Romances - a sometimes lush sometimes harsh always ...
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