Record Review by Adam McKibbin
There’s a well-circulated quote from Mike Patton in which the dynamic, eccentric singer brushes off those who look to dissect his lyrics, saying that he’s more interested in the sound of words than the meaning of words (other renowned rock vocalists, like Thom Yorke, have said similar things). So any English-only listeners who are nervous about Mondo Cane because it’s sung almost entirely in Italian can buck up; if anything, the foreign language forces listeners to accept and interpret the vocals purely on an emotional level – a level where Patton excels.
Of course, there are other valid reasons to be worried about Mondo Cane (careful, that’s pronounced “con-ay”), but those, too, prove to be unfounded. To see Mister Mr. Bungle and Faith No More standing in front of a 40-piece orchestra in a dapper white suit with his thin mustache, prepared to chew with operatic vigor into old Italian songs… well, even one familiar with his broad musical tastes could be forgiven for worrying it was going to be an uneven vanity project, a kitschy gimmick or some combination thereof.
Instead, Mondo Cane works on just about every level imaginable: it succeeds in putting its own interpretive stamp on classic subject matter without adulterating it, it will surely send at least a few curious folks digging into the annals of Italian pop music, and it adds still another layer to how we see Patton as an artist. Bravissimo.
Patton is a vocal powerhouse – something that goes without saying for his fans, but probably needs to be said for anyone who knows him entirely through Faith No More’s “Epic,” or doesn’t know him at all (and anyone in the first group who doesn’t think the second group exists is crazier than the craziest Mr. Bungle song). He’s in master class mode on Mondo Cane, sounding very comfortable in the classic crooner skin, as especially evidenced by the soaring “Ore D’Amore” and his spin through Morricone’s “Deep Down” (probably the most accessible entry point). He kicks into throat-splintering overdrive only once – on the fantastic “Urlo Negro” – and the fact that it, too, is one of the standouts of the album is further proof of not just Patton’s general versatility but to his connectedness to this specific material. Few experiments this bold yield such consistently strong results.
Mike Patton - "Urlo Negro"
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The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt
Megafaun - Interview
Serj Tankian - Interview
Pavement - Live - April 15, 2010