Legendary Faith No More/Mr. Bungle vocalist Mike Patton has certainly been involved in some bizarre projects & solo recordings over the course of his career. His latest release, Luciano Berio Laborintus II, is no exception, as he is joined by the Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble and the Nederlands Kemerkoor to pay tribute to pioneering experimental composer Luciano Berio. Not familiar with Berio? Well, you're probably not the only one. The composer created Laborintus II in 1965 to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante's birth. The composition is based on the "Laborintus" poem by Edoardo Sanguineti, and fuses classical, jazz, and electronic music together for a rather intriguing listening experience.
Patton and the Ictus Ensemble have attempted to recreate this lengthy 3 part piece, and though I've never heard the original, I'd say they've done a decent job with this fairly complex and noisy composition. If you're looking for structure and melody, you've come to the wrong place. Like a head-on collision between free-jazz, avant-garde, and the most outrageous Frank Zappa material you've ever heard, Laborintus II is not for the faint of heart, not by a long shot. Patton himself plays a very small part, mostly adding some spoken narration in Italian throughout the piece, so it's up to the Ictus Ensemble & the Nederlands Kemerkoor to carry the brunt of the work, injecting squonking woodwinds, reeds & horns, some female vocals & choirs, jarring piano, and tumbling percussion. At times the arrangements are tranquil and serene (like in Part 3), but for the most part what you get is a healthy dose of dissonance and noise, perfect for the avant-garde lovers out there.
For this writer, Luciano Berio- Laborintus II is good for a cursory listen or two, but it wears out its welcome quickly and there's not a lot here to warrant repeat spins. Patton fans will certainly be disappointed in his minimal contributions, as other than some narration and whispering, he's practically invisible. If you like this sort of thing, by all means dig in deep, but for those craving melody and structure in their music, this one won't make the grade.
1) Part One (11:40)
2) Part Two (15:06)
3) Part Three (5:29)