Mike Patton’s illustrious career has imbued a sense of experimentation since his early days with Mr. Bungle. The singer engages out-of-character opportunities so frequently, reinvention has become his norm.
So it should have been no surprise when he tackled Italian composer Luciano Berio’s Laborintus II in 2010 with the Ictus Ensemble and Nederlands Kemerkoor at the Holland Festival. And now, Patton and the Ictus Ensemble have reprised their take of the groundbreaking repertoire piece – created in 1965 to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth – on Laborintus II.
It may go without saying, but for the sake of full disclosure – and due to the readership here – it should be stated that this is a modern classical work in three parts. It is devoid of metal, but embodies rich, dark themes – memory, death, usury, and the reduction of all things to money – that are galvanized by Patton’s distinctive narration. The orchestral arrangements are free flowing, unexpectedly seeping from abstract atmospheres to folk, to jazz, and other stylistic perversions. It is intense, meticulous, and experimental; it defies any perceived notion of classical music.
This isn’t Patton’s first exploration into Italian classical composers; his forays include 2011’s Mondo Cane, which included Patton and a 30-piece orchestra delivering Italian oldies from the ‘50s and ‘60s. But whether fronting Faith No More, getting weird with Fantômas, or engaging bygone eras of Italian music, Patton remains an unpredictable force in modern music.
Laborintus II is out now on Ipecac Recordings.
Rating: 4/5 Stars