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May 30, 2006

{     Peeping Tom     }

For Mike Patton devotees like myself Peeping Tom could be likened to a Bible thumper's anticipation of the second coming. Promising a respite from the endless, genre hopping experimentation Patton has become known for the last decade and a half, this was to be his huge major label pop album. Demos, rumors, signs, and prophecies have all circulated but delay is the only thing we've actually seen. Well, the rapture has arrived.

Thoughts? Hmmm… Well, of course, Patton Christ hasn't taken us to the land where streets are paved with pop music gold nor is it even 2006's Faith No More "The Real Thing" as was prophesied at one point (Just like Fantomas was supposed to be the best metal band in the history of the world when they first came out). But it couldn't possibly be either of those things. Nor could it compete with Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Bon Jovi, or anything else heard on (insert your local Clear Channel W-HIT radio station here).

Besides the fact that Ameri-Idol Musicorp. tracks are paid for by the conspiracy to be addictive, ubiquitous AND suck ass, Patton is too weird. He's fucked so many musical vaginas with so many musical cocks he's become like a porn star incapable of going Hollywood. More specifically, his vocal range is too inventive, original, vast, aggressive, and deranged. His compositional arrangements are too experimental, asymmetrical and intricate. And his collaborators, Norah Jones notwithstanding, are too underground. Plus Patton just doesn't give a damn about appealing to anyone except the alien that controls his vocal chords.

Does this make Peeping Tom a bad album? Absolutely not. It just needs to be judged for what we hear, not what we expect to hear and certainly not in comparison with mainstream pop.

So what do we hear? Standout tracks like Mojo (featuring Rahzel, and Dan the Automator) humorously reference Spearsian flirtation with the line "Oops! I did it again." Instead of coming across as an unintentional teen dalliance, or a stadium filling pop dance track, it reads as his Folk Implosion "Natural One." Meaning it could be a marginal club hit with its drug-referencing hook ("Roll it up and smoke it again!"). "Five Seconds" is great because it utilizes Patton's grind-spazz vocal style and splice and dice production in the hooky chorus. This was first used to great effect in his collaboration with Dillinger Escape Plan to up the speed-math-metal ante. Here it serves to push this song soundly and beautifully outside normalcy despite being juxtaposed with a space jazz verse arrangement. "Don't Even Trip" (featuring Amon Tobin) and "Your Neighborhood Spaceman" (featuring Jel and Odd Nosdam) are funky white boy astrosoul jams destined to wind up your musical nose like a waft of Dune Spice.

Weak points for me are "Sucker" (featuring Norah Jones). It's not that catchy and putting "Polly Pureheart" Jones in the role of smutty transgressor is too obvious and forced. Another forced track is Getaway (featuring Kool Keith). Keith's rap style doesn't harmonize with Patton's chorus and it's irritating. In addition, both "Sucker" and "Getaway" sound too much like tracks best left for Dan the Automator to use in a Handsome Boy Modeling School album. His collaboration with Dose One "How U Feelin'?" is pretty good but Doseone's part seems phoned in. "We're Not Alone" (featuring Dub Trio) is ok too. The rocky chorus builds to a somewhat euphoric, repetitive crescendo at the end of the album wrapping it up decently. But it's not as strong as "Mojo" or "Five Seconds."

Peeping Tom is an interesting attempt to reenter the mainstream from a man who has obdurately defied all sense of convention since the release of Faith No More's Angel Dust in 1992. It contains some really catchy off kilter tracks with less weak points than most Patton collaborative efforts (Tomahawk and Fantomas notwithstanding) and is worth getting whether an OG Patton Resurrection Cultist or not.

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Stellar review my boy, and I learned a new word (obdurately). I can't wait to hear this, being a Patton fan for as long as I have been I was surprised at how it snuck up and out on me. Ah, the memories of Patton... First seeing FNM Epic on MTV late one night, when FNM played Easy on Jay Leno and absolutely killed it (I taped and must have watched it 100 times), listening to Bungle 'Tractor' riding around in friend's cars, and holy damn, Angel Dust...

Speaking of late-night TV, did you catch Peeping Tom on Conan the other night. Pretty fucking genius. I'm sure you could find the clip on YouTube.

Posted by: shane at May 30, 2006 7:43 PM

Thanks Boss. I have Mr. Barraclough to thank for turning me onto Faith No More. His coverage of alternative mainstreaming with a focus on FNM for the Huntington East High School school paper in 1991 got me started.

Mr. Bungle turned most acid trips I took in college into rowdy fuctthink fests if not out and out throw things fests. His Adult Themes for Voice followed me into schizo abstract painting and doodletop exercizes in senior figure drawing class at CCAD. I went to an early Fantomas show at Knitting Factory in the late nineties to see Patton and the boys defy expectation, piss off and alienate almost every status quo hardcore and metalhead in the audience and on and on and on. It's like I've grown up with the guy in my head. He's been an artist's artist example of fearless experimentation and doing what feels right instead of what people expect out of you from the get go. What a scumbag genius.

And, of course, I caught the Peepers on Conan. My girlfriend found out how much I love all things Patton when I repeatedly shushed her during the performance. I think I begrudgingly converted her though she'd never admit it.

Posted by: Aaron at May 30, 2006 9:10 PM

I too, learnt a new word. great review. though, I can't say it left me groping for purchase. I get paid tomorrow, though, so...

Posted by: carter at May 31, 2006 5:12 AM

Yeah, I'm not sure it's your cup of tea Satan. You might dig some of the key tracks though.

Posted by: Aaron at June 1, 2006 1:20 PM

you mean wkee tracks? hit 100, wkee FM. is patton on the top 10 at 10 now with his pop music?

Posted by: carter at June 1, 2006 8:57 PM

Yeah, Sorry for the misspelling.

Posted by: Aaron at June 1, 2006 9:29 PM

The packaging is hot shit too. I got a promo copy of the disc and then had to buy it due to the fact that I don't think I've ever seen a CD packaged in that manner. Brilliant.

Posted by: Michael at June 5, 2006 5:13 PM

Finally got this over the weekend and I've gotta throw my cash on the barrrelhead, I'm hooked. Whoa. I started to list my fave tracks, but it was over half the album, for reals.

Posted by: shane at June 6, 2006 6:32 PM
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