Kaada & Patton - Romances

This determination to serve you with a review, whilst doing me proud, unfortunately doesn't help in trying to adequately describe the music to be found on this album.

 

Boy oh boy, I'm getting some top rate weird stuff to review this month. No word of a lie. Romances is the work of two oddballs, Mike Patton and the wonderfully named Kaada. For the record, Patton sings morosely, whilst Kaada does unspeakable things with electronics. The results of this collaboration are ace, but impenetrable, I have to warn you. Furthermore, repeated listening to it makes me very uneasy, in the sense that I feel like I'm being watched. But enough of this paranoia. Let's try to review it.

 

This determination to serve you with a review, whilst doing me proud, unfortunately doesn't help in trying to adequately describe the music to be found on this album. I'm going to have to swing the descriptive lead a bit, if you allow me...

 

Okay; for starters I can say that it's very reminiscent of 1950's sci-fi soundtracks. The music suggests very eery, surreally coloured tableaux of moon walks by Elvis-quiffed heroes in one-piece space clothing. Red lipped dames are in constant attendance. There will be a higher form of evil intelligence, usually presided over by a thin bald guy who looks like a monk.

 

Apart from the 50's schlock, the other thing of note is the aura that surrounds this record.  This aura on Romances can best be described as lurid.  (Yes, that's the word I wanted, lurid). The colours I shall suggest here as best describing this lurid tag are green, yellow, orange and Prussian blue. Other mental imagery thrown up through the course of the listen was that of being suspended in a cage underwater, or walking with no shoes on in a dream. Hmm... I think it's time to get back to reality, (in the form of the press release), for a little while...

 

Apparently, Kaada and Patton drew inspiration from Mahler, Chopin and Brahms. Armed with this information, I can now confidently state that there seems to be a curious, Mittel Europa, fin de siecle air to the proceedings. We are trespassing on the margins of serious modern classical work here. We should, in truth, all start nodding seriously and start talking of dissonance, slight but cleverly orchestrated atonal passages and challenging contemporary structures. Luckily we don't have to because Romances has its feet very much in the camp of pop culture. It's also, (albeit at times) bloody funny.

 

Let me now give you some instances. Invocation lurches around deep in a Cambrian sea. Effects similar to hammond and church organs, oboes and disembodied voices float through the gloaming and prepare us for the strange plainsong style of Mike Patton. His voice on Pitie pour mes larmes is best described as the voice of an unrepentantly evil Brian Wilson. There are similarities here to Tom Waits' Black Rider, or Berthold Brecht in Pitie. In some ways it is brilliant stage music, in that it is very evocative of scenarios in a burlesque or turns on a Victorian music hall stage. Pensee des morts as you would expect, is downright creepy. Prisoners rattle their chains and bang on their cell doors in terror, because their prision in infested with ghosts. The unhappy spirits shuffle about the jail; fettered and ragged, lamenting and wailing piteously. Suddenly, the music breaks into a mutant version of Jesus Christ Superstar as played by DAF. Then, just as suddenly, we switch back to the wraithly groaning and wailing, (I suppose as some kind of relief from the unearthly renditions of Lloyd Webber), but not for long. A sudden end has this listener confused and a bit freaked out.

 

There, that's enough now...

 

I do hope that you, the reader, will have formed a clear picture by now, not only of the music, but also the mental gymnastics I've undergone in describing it to you. I hope you're bloody grateful.