Mike Patton: Italian Idol

Mike Patton: Italian Idol
In a career full of left turns, Mondo Cane is Mike Patton's latest, most confounding move. It might also be the most accessible project yet for the reunited Faith No More front-man. Long in the works, Mondo Cane takes on and takes apart vintage Italian pop. On one level, this is a nearly retro-soul tribute to the florid styles of the '60s and '70s. On every other level, it advances the audio surrealism of composers like Ennio Morricone into this century with lush, exciting and bizarre orchestrations. It's all very much in keeping with Patton's eclectic body of work, which includes Mr. Bungle and collaborations with Björk, Melvins and co-founding the Ipecac label.

"The goal is of course to capture the spirit and beauty of this music, but putting my stamp on it. It would be boring to do a karaoke record," he says. "You have to buy in completely as an artist and not rely on how other versions of these songs sound. The obvious challenge was working in a whole different area than I have been used to: with orchestras and conductors and arrangements. So many people were involved, and it was a real educational process for me."

Though surrounded by a 40-piece orchestra, crashing drums, buzzers and other noises, Patton towers over the proceedings with enthusiasm and drama. Huge emotions pour forth, with language being absolutely no barrier. "I always consider and use my voice as an instrument, so what I'm singing is not as important as how it sounds," Patton declares. "The music directs the emotion. It is so expressive and beautiful; so different than the drivel that is considered pop in the U.S." Patton can't wait to do more Mondo Cane in the future; of the many projects he's tried on over his career, this one fits him like a finely tailored suit.