Kaada Romances (with Mike Patton)

[Ipecac; 2004]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: trip-hop, sound collage, film music, wop-hop?
Others: Mike Patton, DJ Shadow, RJD2, Prefuse 73, Yann Tiersen, Michael Nyman

I don't feel like I'm going too far out on a limb here, or patting myself too much on the back, to say that I'm the foremost expert on both Mike Patton and Kaada here at TMT. So, to say that I was completely surprised by how this album sounded is essentially to say that it sounds almost nothing like what they've done before. In fact, I don't even know what point of departure they made to arrive at it. There's a dash of Patton's gloom penchant from the recent years and a sprinkling of the romanticism (apropos?) from Kaada's last, unheralded MeCD. Which begs the question: what does it sound like? In short, its musical decadence near its zenith. Now, recall that decadence means something along the lines of "indulgence to the point of decay." Decay being the key ingredient here. Lusciously baroque instrumentation swoons throughout the disc, with a ubiquitous sense of drunken sloppiness. Kaada employs the vaguely eastern European dark and primal romanticism that was present at times on his most recent solo album, but in a much darker and flamboyant manner. Patton's vocals and lyrics are drenched in lugubriousness, but often take an ironically upbeat turn. People tried to claim that Frog Eyes were a kind of neo-cabaret, but I'd have to say that this fits the bill more cleanly. The pomposity of cabaret has been pumped up to extreme levels here, at times bordering on the absurd. As a retrospective on the folly of cabaret, Patton's vocals would seem to work very well, adopting its sensuality and cheer, and then ultimately undermining it. But, most tellingly, this sounds like a certain kind of horror music. The kind you'd expect Terry Gilliam to use for a scene set in a tattered den of sin full of toothless smiles and jaundiced skin. At times manically percolating and at others depressingly morose, this is the soundtrack for a life surrendered to pleasure.

1. Invocation
2. Pitie Pour Mes Larmes
3. Aubade
4. L'Absent
5. Crepuscle
6. Viens, Les Gazons Sont Verts
7. Seule
8. Pensee Des Morts
9. Nuit Silencieuse

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