Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Squeal, Grunt, Burp, Fuck

Mike Patton - Adult Themes For Voice

Many years back Mike Patton released a couple of albums for John Zorn's experimental/avant-garde Tzadik* label, one of which is Adult Themes For Voice. Believe it or not, they're completely off the deep end even compared to his normal output (yes, it even makes Fantomas seem accessible). Now you can't make an avant-garde album without a pretentious gimmick, and this album is no exception. The entire forty-five minutes was recorded using only Patton's voice and a microphone in hotel rooms all over the world as he toured with Faith No More.

By using all sorts of weird effects and mixing tricks Patton gets a lot of mileage out of a very limited set of instruments (not that Patton's vocal range is at all limited, but it's still only one instrument). Most of the time the result is a bewildering ear-splitting noise, fully indulging in the most confrontational, inaccessible tendencies of the avant-garde (not an obstacle to my enjoyment of the music of course), at other times he creates more conventional kinds of songs, which stand out as being cleverer than the others because of their unconventional composition methods. The most notable of these is the last track Orgy in Reverb (10 Kilometers of Lust), which is an ethereal ambient soundscape.

Now I'm normally a bit skeptical of avant-garde weirdness for it's own sake but I quite like this album. Sure it's not what I'd put on at a party, or even an album I'd listen to unless I'm in the mood for something peculiar, but it's very cleverly composed and a lot easier to listen to than Patton's other release for Tzadik, Pranzo Oltranzista (even I get a little impatient listening to three minutes of someone doing the dishes).

*Hey, wikipedia tells me that Tzadik means 'righteous one' in Hebrew. Wikipedia is cool.


Joel said...

Wikipedia whips the llama's ass.

Plus I'm finding obscure music things on trademe for about half retail, thus I recomend having a look.

Jon said...

I might do so... although I already have way to many ways to waste money at the moment as it is.