(photo credit: Courtesy)
Man of 1,000 Faces” was the nickname that stuck to 1920s ’30s horror-film actor
Lon Cheney, for his mastery of makeup and versatility in portraying
silver-screen monsters from the werewolf of London to the hunchback of Notre
In the same vein, “Man of 1,000 Voices” could aptly describe the
versatility of musician extraordinaire Mike Patton, who comes here on August 3
with his show Mondo Cane.
Patton started his musical career in the mid
1980s with California’s Mr. Bungle – a band that meshed heavy metal guitar with
funky brass and also strayed into everything from klezmer to electronic
loop-based music. But he achieved celebrity status when he took over vocal
duties for Faith No More, which he also fronted during the band’s reunion show
in Israel last year. In between the dissolution of Bungle and FNM, Patton
established his own band – Fantomas – which has put out five albums to date, and
also fronted another hard rock outfit, Tomahawk.
Since the mid-1990s,
apart from records with his mainstay bands, Patton worked on a plethora of side
projects of his own and with dozens of other musicians. Notable among those are
his collaborations with Jewish avant-garde sax player John Zorn, an experimental
voice-only album of his own music (Adult Themes for Voice), his vocal
contributions to the works of composer Eyvind Kang and his work on many of the
albums published by Ipecac Recordings, a label he co-founded in
What is common to all these endeavors is Patton’s vocal ability;
from crooning to growling, high falsetto to deep baritone, beatboxing to
whispering, he has arguably one of the best all-around voices in the music
industry. The only reason his virtuosity has not catapulted him to
stadium-filling fame is his predilection for music that transcends traditional
style definitions and his avoidance of sycophancy with the pop-chart
ODDLY, IT is with Mondo Cane that Patton gets closest to straight
pop, albeit from the 1960s.
Mondo Cane (Italian for “It’s a dog’s world”)
is named after a notorious Italian B-movie from 1962.
The flick was so
successful that it spawned a trail of imitations, many of which were billed as
sequels to draw filmgoers in.
The songs on Mondo Cane are all newly
arranged cover versions of Italian pop hits from the 1960s. In concert and on
the album (culled from live performances), Patton is accompanied by a 30-strong
orchestra and chorus. Most pieces are by obscure composers, little known outside
Italy, such as Luigi Tenco, Gino Paoli and Fred Bongusto. One selection is by
Italian soundtrack king Ennio Morricone.
The lyrics – in Italian, of
course – are the regular fare: Adventure, romance, broken hearts and the like.
Patton’s approach to the music, however, is one of respect, not irony. He stated
that he took on the project because he believes in the songs’ musical value,
despite their apparent lowbrow orientation.
The arrangements differ from
the originals but certainly retain their spirit. Fluent in Italian after
been married to an Italian woman and living in Bologna, Patton even took
learn the proper accent for one song in Sicilian, a dialect spoken in
of the country.
Israel is lucky that Alive Productions managed to book
Patton to come with a plane-full of musicians to Israel; the Mondo Cane
orchestra’s world tour itinerary lists performances in only seven
Mondo Cane will be performed on Tuesday, August 3, 7:30 p.m.
at the Ra’anana Ampitheater. Tickets, ranging from NIS 200 to NIS 400,
purchased at the Hadran ticket office.