: Weeks after performing a red hot set (in red hot formal wear) at Coachella, alt-rock über-genius Mike Patton
reminds us that when it comes to pushing the limits of his delightfully eccentric musical experiments, we ain't seen nothin' yet. Backed by the grandeur of a 30-piece orchestra, Patton's new release, Mondo Cane
(out today on his label, Ipecac Records), harnesses 10 traditional Italian Pop songs from the '50s and '60s.
The project itself was recorded live at various shows in Europe and has reportedly been in the making for about five years. So yeah, we're pretty sure Patton acolytes have been salivating over this album for quite a while. Well, the time has come. Buon appetito!
The Judgement: Before Mondo Cane was even released, Mike Patton was showing his love for Italian culture. He was married to an Italian-born artist. He owned a home in Bolonga, Italy. These days, his slicked-back hair and pencil-thin mustache make him look like Tony Soprano's body guard. And despite a few problems with his accent, his rendition of the country's pop songs confirms that this guy is truly all about Italia.
Opening with stormy sound effects on "Il Cielo Una Stanza," Patton's impeccable string section slowly unfurls, allowing his vocals the freedom to soar with a mix of tongue-rolling romanticism and soulful howls. Most importantly, nothing Patton sings on the record sounds forced-like he's trying too hard to inject his style into every square inch of the songs. Instead, he allows the orchestra equal ability to shine throughout the record.
A good example would be the the slow and smoldering string arrangements on "Ore D'Amore" that create a beautiful canvas of jazzy tones with hints of huge, operatic bluster thrown in. Fans of the exotica movement of the '50s and '60s will also find the a little taste of the tropics injected into almost every track.
Patton is at his best on songs like "Che Notte" and "L'Urlo Negro" resurrecting his maniacal and dynamic vocal style that evokes decades of front man experience in the metal world. Patton also enjoys the use of a low, gravelly growl that brims with character, comedy and even a little bit of Broadway theatrics.
One of the great things about this record is that it reminds us of how Patton's vocals can go from Satanic to sensual at the drop of a dime. Whether he's romancing your the pants off with the seductive vibrato on his rendition of Ennio Morricone's "Deep Deep Down" or playing coy and cautious (not typical adjectives ascribed to the Freak King) on "Ti Offre Da Bere," Patton's voice can do it all, and then some.