Mike Patton is the multi-instrumentalist and insane vocalist who has headed more bands than you and I have had hot dinners; most famous for heading Faith No More after the (wise) move to rid themselves of previous lead singer Chuck Mosley, he’s also known for leading genre headbenders Mr Bungle, drone/film music tribute supergroup Fantomas, downtempo effort Peeping Tom, metal outfit Tomahawk, and his record label and collaboration list reads like a who’s who of fringe talent (Kaada, John Zorn, Melvins, Young Gods).
What’s really peculiar is that one of his most insanely enjoyable discs of music is one that he didn’t have anything to do with the composition of, consisting entirely of covers of old Italian pop songs (and as such, compared to his fearsome noise efforts like Adult Themes For Voice, is incredibly tame).
But I have listened to at least some of this album probably once a week for the last three or so years, so there must be something there. And there is; Mondo Cane is unadulterated fun and seems to leap out of your stereo/headphones and possess you. It jumps back and forth between brooding-then-soaring straight love songs (Il Cielo in Una Stanza), rollickingly tribal dancefests (Urlo Negro), lovely piano-led momentum-builders (Ti Offro Di Bere), and even a nice slow tender piece (Scalinatella) that doesn’t even feel like it’s there out of structural necessity, like that token slowsong-on-fast-album thing.
At the head of it all is Patton’s gorgeous, crooning voice, a heavenly thing. Stripped of pretension
or affectation, this is as straight as he gets, and a far cry from his guttural throat experiments. Soulful, commanding, meditative, occasionally playful and never less than breathtaking, from the subtle rolls of the rrr’s and an intense, probing falsetto, the most endearing and endurable quality of this album is the sincerity with which he sings (I can’t speak Italian, so I’m going on pure feeling here, but rest assured looking up the meanings does not diminish their quality). The album rides on the sound of one man bearing his soul to us all.
Bolstered by a full-whack orchestra with no type of instrument left out, this album has everything. It can be played at a party, a wedding, a funeral, on a long drive, even in an elevator. There are no weak cuts on this thing, and when it gets to the point that the only thing I can think to criticise is the fact that it isn’t twice as long, you know something’s gone right. Mike Patton may have done a lot, but this is the album that to me has the most of him in; it has the feel of a passion project, and looking at the performances on YouTube, watching this vocal and musical titan strut around the stage like he owns the place, you realise that he does own the place; he owns this album too.
(NOTE; the album is eleven tracks long, but Patton recorded much more for the project, all of
which are available on YouTube and I urge you to seek down at your [guaranteed] leisure. One of
them Storia D’Amore, deserves to be on this album. Have a play around and have a look; I don’t
advocate piracy, but once you become familiar with it, it’s hard not to envisage the extra tracks’
place within the record. BUT THAT IS NOT AN ADVOCATION OF PIRACY JUST AN
ENDORSEMENT OF ONE OF THE MOST LIVELY ALBUMS OF THE LAST TEN YEARS
(written by Declan Cochran)