Mike Patton is the ultimate musical chameleon. Nothing in the musical world is beyond his grasp. He’s worked with artists from wildly different sides of the music spectrum – from Merzbow to Rahzel, Dillenger Escape Plan to John Zorn, The X-Ecutioners to Björk. Whatever his setting, Patton blends in; his voice is a unique tool that he can shape into whatever he needs it to be. With the X-Ecutioners, he’s a rapper. With Peeping Tom, he’s a crooner. With Faith No More, he’s the prototypical rock singer. With John Zorn, he uses his voice as another instrument. Put him in any situation, and he’ll find a way to use his voice to full effect.
With so many diverse entries in his massive discography, it should come as no surprise that his latest project is a re-imagining of an obscure 1965 classical piece by Italian composer Luciano Berio that was created to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the poet Dante’s birth. Considered a masterpiece in some circles, the piece was played at the Holland Festival in 1973. In 2010, Patton and the Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble recreated the piece at the very same festival, which led to this recording.
Laborintus II may come as a shock to listeners who know Patton through his other bands. But those who have been following his previous solo work might know what to expect – a very abstract work that runs the gauntlet from quiet, jazzy atmospherics to brazen, unsettling primal noise. At first glance, it’s easy to brush off Laborintus II as half an hour of experimental drivel, but those that stick with it and let it soak will be rewarded. The jazzy breaks and sonic freak-outs of the 15-minute centerpiece “Part Two” are especially satisfying. It may be unlike anything else you’ve ever heard, but give it a chance (or two), and you may end up with a better appreciation for not only Mike Patton, but Luciano Berio as well.