Review Summary: Promising first foray into movie soundtracks for Mike Patton
Mike Patton is a very, very busy guy. After Faith No More ground to a halt in 1998 he could’ve soaked in nostalgic glory, but instead continued to work with the avante garde and brilliant Mr. Bungle before fronting numerous projects such as Tomahawk, Fantomas and Peeping Tom throughout the 2000’s.
His fearless embrace of various musical genres has been a constant theme throughout his career, and given the cinematic quality of many of the albums he has been worked on, many fans wondered why it took him so long to make the leap into movie soundtracks. Derek Scocchera’s 25 minute film noir short ‘A Perfect Place’ offered Patton the opportunity to finally test his mettle against his personal heroes Ennio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti, and he responded by delivering a soundtrack that is ten minutes longer than the film itself.
Constructed around a recurring melodic motif, A Perfect Place
is primarily big band/jazz in its overall sound, but as one would expect from a Mike Patton album he seamlessly blends a number of disparate styles together. Anybody who is familiar with Patton’s recent work but hasn’t heard this particular album may be expecting an unsettling, free form album of muffled screams and assorted weirdness, but the music here is actually about as accessible as Patton gets.
Brooding noir atmospherics, straight ahead pop, opera... Patton tosses them all in the blender and the results are pleasing to the ear. Some tracks definitely stand out above the rest, however. Most notably, the title track is a wonderfully ominous soundscape of whistling and creepy synths that brings to mind Angelo Badalamenti’s work on David Lynch films. Elsewhere, Patton throws in a token pop song ‘A Perfect Twist’ (with sadistic lyrics to offset his sweet singing) and even flexes his operatic vocals on ‘Il Cupo Dolore’. ‘A Little Poker Tomorrow Night’ is a fantastic summarisation of the albums strengths. A foreboding piano driven intro soon gives way to Patton’s disturbingly feminine-sounding vocals and a chorus that is probably the most resounding and memorable on the entire album.
This album is not without its flaws. As the soundtrack draws to a close, the incessant variations of the melodic hook that propels the album begin to grow repetitive, and ‘Main Title (Reprise)’ and ‘Another Perfect Place’ are little more than filler. The two tracks that mimic the sound of somebody flicking through various radio stations are frustrating in that they are just random, two second snippets that tease the listener but never reward. In terms of re-playability value, these songs just don't offer a lot. Another criticism that can be levelled at this record is Patton's reliance on rather artificial sounding MIDI approximations of orchestral instruments.
Did this soundtrack really need to be ten minutes longer than the film? Probably not. But there should be more than enough here to tell the listener that Patton has a natural flair for this kind of thing, and hopefully this album marks the beginning of a long career in movie soundtracks.