Wednesday, July 26, 2006



John Kaada and Mike Patton’s Romances is a spooky and thrilling collaboration that possesses all the qualities of a deranged and fantastic foreign film. Patton, the former Faith No More vocalist and Ipecac label owner, is no stranger to film music. His 2001 offering with Fantômas The Director’s Cut, is a wicked romp through the soundtracks of some of the grizzliest horror films to grace the silver screen. When teamed up with Norwegian sound artiste Kaada, the two unleash a sonic panorama of a twinkling and surreal snow-dusted landscape.

“Invocation” jolts to life with a jarring jump cut, as the music tunes in to a program that’s already in progress.

There’s an ebb and flow to Romances that builds around variations of fugue-like rhythms and textures. Accordion drones, booming voices, washes of organs and looming, operatic crescendos plod along, punctuated by whispers and some legitimately heartrending crooning. “Pitie Pour Mes Larmes” and “Seule” illustrate that Patton does indeed know the rules before he breaks them. This juxtaposed with Kaada’s vivid and conceptual leanings produces an unsettling effect that doesn’t let up until the credits roll.

At the heart of it all, “Crépuscule,” takes shape as an undulating and machine-age masterpiece. A crystalline glaze glides over mechanical voodoo beats, painting a picture that’s not unlike viewing the cast of characters from A Nightmare Before Christmas trapped in the gears of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis without hope or desire for insurrection.

For those looking for a rock record, “The Real Thing” Romances is not. Nor does the music bear anything in common with any of those other other scary Mike Patton bands. Here, Patton sinks continually into his role as the working man’s avantgardian, and just as birds of a feather flock together, Kaada and Patton are complimentary characters in this eerie invisible soundtrack.

--Chad Radford

(Published by Creative Loafing 2/17/05.)