Mike Patton & Ictus Ensemble – Laborintus II
Mike Patton has never been shy of experimentation. If you recall the oddities of Mr. Bungle, or the blast madness of Fantômas you will agree with this statement. Patton’s work with Tomahawk finely displays his fascination with exploring the vast potential of his voice, via gas masks or effects and, obviously, an honourable mention must got to Faith No More for his more melodic and musical aspects. ‘Laborintus II’ does not display any such experimentation or swoony singing from Patton, but rather in the voices of the fantastic Ictus Ensemble. Rather, Mr. Bungle himself focusses more on the role of a narrator, providing some form of continuity to the piece with Latin frills and trills here, there and everywhere (though, be warned, there’s no more than two or three sentences uttered in English) .
‘Laborintus II’ was originally scored by avant-garde composer, Luciano Berio almost 50 years ago and ranges from classical to jazz, swinging by some contemporary a capella and even detours off down the scenic route to some opera (Parts 2 & 3 even tread into electronic territory, believe it or not!). Being a straight-up cover the performers were obviously somewhat limited in their interpretations, however that does not mean that the performance is not without merit: Patton’s own hysteria is often reflected and somewhat encouraged by the backing choir and brass bursts and string stabs keep the frenzy building until the listener is left somewhere totally bizarre and quite appetising. The composition isn’t totally manic either, oh no! Often the listener finds themselves hugged up to close, dry narration over low fuzzy synths or strings softly extending semibreves.
The strengths of Berio’s composition certainly lie in his diversity and clear understanding of a wide range of genres and styles. Elements of the piece certainly conjure memories of some of Sun Ra’s work with his Arkestra, or a luddite-brother of ‘Tomorrow in a Year’; the mind-blowing Charles Darwin sci-fi opera by The Knife (though, as this predates them both I daresay it was an inspiration to both). If you’re expecting to hear Patton sing ‘Mojo’ you’ve come to the wrong place, same again if you were expecting huge walls of sound or head-banging, fist-pumping anthems. This record is intimate, challenging and demanding; diverse and just a little experimental. Whilst I can sadly guarantee Patton won’t be making the charts with ‘Laborintus II’, I can also certainly fully endorse the piece, commend Ictus Ensemble and recommend this homage to anyone with genuine musical curiosity.
Patton’s Ipecac Recordings will release ‘Laborintus II’ on July 2nd.
Posted by Jake Murray
Tags: album review, Ictus Ensemble, Ipecac Recordings, Jake Murray, Laborintus II, Mike Patton