Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mike Patton, renaissance man

Sheila posted what has to be the definitive post on Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter. I didn't know why, but reading the post, I kept thinking about Mike Patton, Faith No More frontman and purveyor of all things music avant-garde. So, yeah, I didn't get it at the time, but the more I think about it, Patton is to music what Depp has been to film (though with far less commercial success). He melds into each new form or shape effortlessly.

Let's inspectorate, shall we? Patton started in Faith No More when FNM was doing rather prototypical 80s schlock rock. There wasn't much outside the firing lane with Epic, but there was something about Patton. Something that demanded attention. Something that screamed that he was more than just another long-haired glam rocker. Faith No More's next entry - Angel Dust - proved the band had far more going on than many thought. Still they had some commercially accessible songs in A Small Victory or Mid Life Crisis (though I doubt many of those who remember the song know the lyrics to MLC). Still, they had some amazing tunes on that album and at the same time did a cover of Easy:

Patton's voice and manner meld perfectly in this cover.

At the same time that Patton was fronting FNM, he was busy working on his side project, Mr. Bungle - a band that defies description. They are at times surf rock, they are at times ska, they are at times metal, they play circus music, arcade themes and whatever else comes to mind. Yet, even though all these disparate styles go on, somehow it all works, and Patton has a lot to do with that:

WTF, right? But it works.

After Bungle disbanded and FNM split, Patton worked on a lot of different projects. There's probably my favorite, Tomahawk which features members of The Melvins, Jesus Lizard and Helmet:

He also fronted noise-experiment-rock-ish band Fantomas where he did a lot of experimentation with the voice as an instrument:

Another one of his many projects was a "love song" album called Lovage:

He's also worked on soundtracks (the bastards disabled embedding): He used his experimental vocals to provide the voices of the monsters in I Am Legend.

Lastly, his dissing of Wolfmother is legendarily hilarious:

I can't think of any other vocalist who jumps genres like Patton. I can't imagine anyone doing with his success.


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