Perfect Sound Forever

Danger Mouse & Mike Patton


Love, Italian Style
by Lavina Loya
(June 2011)

If the name Mike Patton is at all familiar to you, you will find the following article pretty much par for the course. He is the man of a million voices, the man with a million bands and an all-around musical schizophrenic. As the creator of Ipecac Records and front man for (to name only a few) Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk and most famously Faith No More, he has recently come to the table with an equally eyebrow raising project, Mondo Cane. A 1950's and '60's Italian pop record. Yeah. Let that one sink in for a minute.

It is no secret that Patton has been a long time admirer of film, film scores and Italian culture. Evidence has been left like a trail of bread crumbs throughout his body of work, maming Italian composer Ennio Morricone, famous for his scorings of Leone's "Spaghetti Westerns," as one of his musical Idols.

So, what will marrying an Italian woman and spending the better part of a decade living in Bologna get you? Well, it seems a fluency in the language and a surprising (or maybe not so surprising) love affair with Italy's music of decades past. "Me, I had very deep reasons for learning the language and felt like if I didn't, why should I be there, why should I be living in a place as a complete gringo? I was learning both the music and the language at the same time," Patton stated for The Vine.com.

With what is clearly an homage and a thank you to the place that took him in and captured his heart, Patton, with standard screw-you mentality takes a bat to the kneecaps of your precious comfort zone. Again. When an opportunity came along to work with an orchestra in Italy, he jumped at the chance to test run some of those bat shit crazy ideas that had been swirling in his brain. The notion of "maybe someday" was turning into "right now." Assuming the role as Captain of the ship, he gathered a 30 piece orchestra and friend Daniele Luppi to help with arrangements. The album was cultivated over the course of three live performances. One show wasdone open to the public, in a piazza in northern Italy and then finished in studio.

Mondo Cane, which roughly translates to "a dog's world" finally made its debut in May 2010. These songs that Italians hold so near and dear to their hearts were put in the hands of a California-born, left-of-center noise maker. As it turned out, those songs couldn't have landed in better hands. They were loved and cared for and treated with the upmost respect. You can hear his passion and sense the blood sweat and tears. With a pitch perfect voice, he tells stories of love, love lost and love that could never be in a way that would pull on the heartstrings of even the biggest riffle toting, Toby Keith loving Sara Palin supporter. Patton has since taken Mondo Cane on a European tour and made a rare appearance on U.S. soil in San Francisco this past October at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. I was lucky enough to be in attendance. I was lucky enough to watch what was easily thousands of freshly un-showered hippies begin to understand what I already understood. They were surely acknowledging the obvious fact that they cant understand one word, but then seemingly asking themselves "why can I not seem to walk away?"

Why? Because what's good is good, and God Dammit, this is good.

Now I am hooked. I need more. I need another fix. If I could fill a syringe and mainline this music I would. I thought, surely there's more. More artists out there suffering from a similar addiction to this gorgeous drug. Someone else had to have musica Italiana on their radar. Turns out there was.

Enter Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, celebrated (and Grammy nominated) songwriter/producer who is also one half of Gnarls Barkley. He has brilliantly produced albums for the likes of The Gorillaz (2005's Demon Days), Beck's 2008 Modern Guilt, also in 2008, The Black Keys' Attack and Release. Danger Mouse is currently putting his magic touch on U2's upcoming album said to be released later in 2011.

In 2004, Danger Mouse met Italian born composer Daniele Luppi (remember him?) through a common friend while both living in Los Angeles. They quickly realized their shared affection, much like Patton, for Morricone and his avant garde approach to cinema soundtrack. Luppi, who is an acclaimed musician in his own right, contributed original music for numerous films and television such as Under the Tuscan Sun, Nine, the T.V. series Sex and the City and the Brian Grazer produced documentary Inside Deep Throat.

The foundation was laid for a five year epic and somewhat covert collaboration entitled Rome. Scheduled for a May release this year. By nothing short of a miracle, the duo managed to lock down some of Morricone's original session musicians, now all in their seventies and eighties and worked on the famed "trilogy" of Spaghetti Westerns- A Fistfull of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1966) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Throw in the charismatic sounds of White Stripes singer Jack White and the ethereal voice of Norah Jones and you have a lethal cocktail that will unquestionably catapult this treasured genre right into 2011 and beyond. The perfect balance of old and new, young and old, traditional and experimental.

Maybe these guys are on to something. Maybe they feel compelled to share with us music that has, for many of us, somehow never felt relevant. To share a chance to be courted and romanced by music that knows how to be nothing else but romantic. To travel across time zones and back in time and to see what they love through their eyes.

So if a bravado-heavy hack singing "That's Amore" at the local Olive Garden is what you think of when someone mentions Italian music, think again. There is more. Lots more. I think Mr. Patton might have put it best by saying this music is for "anyone with a heart in their fucking chest."


Also see our overview of Danger Mouse's career


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