Review Summary: An odd album with a retro vibe
This record is absolutely unique and an unique case. A collaboration between the one and only Mike Patton, who has increasingly fallen into a role of noise experimenter and world music explorer, and the great French composer and musician Jean-Claude Vannier. An unpublished couple who met on the occasion of a work dedicated to Serge Gainsbourg, whose influence can be felt in this album called "Corpse Flower", published by Ipecac, the label founded by Patton in 1999 with Greg Werckman. The album was recorded with a plethora of musicians led by Vannier, who basically wrote all the music.
The disc opens immediately with a recital, 'Ballad C.3.3', where Patton recites the verses of Oscar Wilde, mumbling them one after the another as if he were a kind of Tom Waits, but less parodic. The same formula is taken up in a more cavernous key in 'Camion', which precludes forms of composition which are however much less minimalist and at the limits of progressive, excesses of spectacular free-form and jazzed theatricalism such as those of 'Cold Sun Warm Beer ', 'Corpse Flower' or the pathetism of 'Insolubles'. But the sample is vast: the rock of "On Top Of The World" certainly has something of its own in Gainsbourg, as well as 'A Schoolgirl's Day', an elegant cinematic blues-rock, with text signed by Vannier. 'Yard Bull' or 'Pink and Bleue', which serve as an obsolete setting for Patton's vocalizations who is struggling to make the gesture a reality, are the most classical pieces, but among these stands out "Chanson D'Amour" which remembers the sound of Lou Reed's "Berlin". To a lesser extent, 'Truck' does not quite tarnish despite the silly self-titled refrain, and 'Hungry Ghost', a track with psyche-baroque keyboards which will recall a very French and obsolete imagination, has its charm and the clownish crooneries of Patton.
All in all, seeing Mike Patton collaborate with Vannier can be promising and the result between these classy 60's orchestration, oriental strings, light psyche-funk guitar, and vintage keyboards, works on some occasions, but the final result does not hold up among others Patton pop works, such as "Mondo Cane" or "Peeping Tom". After all, "Corpse Flower" is an unique album full of familiar and dark sounds, but it falls quite short with Patton returning once again to a retro kinda of an album.