New Mike Patton live album coming July 3rd, featuring the music of Luciano Berio

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By Mike Patton’s prolific standards, he’s been keeping pretty quiet of late. We haven’t heard any new music from the lead singer/screamer/vocalese-generator of two of our favorite weird bands, Mr. Bungle and Fantomas, since last November’s The Solitude of Prime Numbers, his soundtrack for the film of the same name. But come July 3rd, Patton’s months-long silence will finally come to an end with the release of Laborintus II, his live rendition of a piece by the Italian experimental composer Luciano Berio. And based on the clip below, it is weird shit indeed.

Berio wrote Laborintus II in 1965 to mark the 700th anniversary of the birth of Dante, who wrote a little poem called the Inferno that some of you may have been forced to read in a comparative lit class at some point. Apparently Berio himself performed the piece in 1972 with a blow-up doll and old car tires gracing the stage. Patton, in collaboration with the Belgian-based Ictus Ensemble and the Dutch choral group Nederlands Kamerkoor, plays it more straight—so don’t expect any Mr. Bungle-like hijinks here. In fact, he pretty much just recites poetry in Italian and leaves the ominous wailing to the chorus. (You can watch the whole performance on Vimeo if you’re so inclined. But that sorta feels like cheating, doesn’t it?)

Laborintus II comes out July 3rd on Patton’s Ipecac Recordings.


Mr. Bungle

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Another year, more weird bands! The fun never ends.

So it was exactly one year ago today that we finally owned up to our huge man-crushes on Mike Patton and wrote up what we considered to be the weirdest of his many bands, Fantomas. To which pretty much every single comment has been: “Fantomas? No way! Mr. Bungle is way weirder!” Did any of you people actually watch the Fantomas video we posted? But okay, fine, Bungle is pretty weird, too. So why not make it a tradition and declare Jan. 1st to be Mike Patton Day here at TWBITW? We’ll pick another of his projects to write up on Jan. 1, 2012. Start casting your votes now.

As for Mr. Bungle…if you’re not familiar, this was actually Mike Patton’s first band, started in Eureka, California with his childhood buds Trevor Dunn, Trey Spruance and Theo Lengyel. (The band’s original drummer, Jed Watts, quit before they got big.) The band’s early demos were a mix of metal, ska and free jazz, and their music just kept getting weirder from there; by the time they released their self-titled debut album in 1991, they were creating a mish mash of sounds unlike any other band in existence. They released two more albums in the 90s, Disco Volante and California, then finally called it quits in 2004, as Patton went on to his zillion other projects, Dunn went on to play bass with folks like Fantomas and John Zorn, Spruance carried on with his experimental rock group Secret Chiefs 3, and Lengyel went on to, as far as we can tell, drop off the face of the earth.

What’s particularly odd about Mr. Bungle is that, because their music included some elements of metal and because Mike Patton was also recruited to be the vocalist for funk-metal pioneers Faith No More, their fan base early on consisted mainly of headbangers. This led to a few shows in which the Bungle boys would turn on their own fans or vice versa (as described in this article, for example). It also means that, to Mike Patton’s eternal regret, Mr. Bungle was a huge influence on various, mostly crappy nu-metal bands like Korn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. (Patton once said of such bands, “It’s their mothers’ fault, not mine.”)

They also had a long-running feud with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which led to this awesome parody performance at a Halloween show in ’99. Mike Patton does Anthony Kiedis better than Anthony Kiedis does, doesn’t he? (Say that 10 times really fast.)

Mr. Bungle only made one official music video, which was banned by MTV because it featured members of the band hanging from meat hooks and severed dolls heads flying around and various other images that, honestly, seem kinda tame now but were apparently too disturbing back in the days before anyone had seen a Saw movie. That video, for the song “Quote Unquote” is pretty great, but for a true taste of what made Mr. Bungle so wacky, we’re partial to this live video from a 1995 concert. They’re like the masked satanic hotel lounge band from hell. This must’ve sent the few remaining Faith No More fans in attendance scrambing for the exits.