Mike Patton

A Perfect Place

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AllMusic Review by

Ipecac's special edition soundtrack and film package combines the DVD of Derrick Scocchera's 25-minute black-and-white short, A Perfect Place with a CD of the original score by the inexhaustible Mike Patton. The twist that differentiates this project from his many others is that he had to adhere to someone else's vision, and with less freedom to run rampant, the standard Patton idiosyncrasies are refined. The soundtrack is challenging and sometimes messy, especially during "Car Radio AM" and "Car Radio FM," two tracks that incorporate a radio dial rifling through stations, but for a Patton release, this is as focused as it gets, and it stays true to the filmmaker's vision. The soundtrack seeps into nearly every scene, emanating onscreen from car speakers, an elderly woman's Victrola, a kitchen counter transistor radio, even interrupting the actors' dialogues at times. Unlike the fractured Adult Themes for Voice, a record that assaulted listeners with snippets and noise bursts, or the minimalist effort Pranzo Oltranzista, which was practically non-musical with its sparse smattering of saxes, Patton's third non-aliased solo effort shows off his enormous talent as a sophisticated composer and musician. With the exception of some guest percussion on two tracks, he wrote, performed, and produced all of A Perfect Place's music himself, and considering that his notoriety comes from his talents as a vocalist, the depth of his orchestral arrangements are surprisingly mature. Here, he goes the big band/film noir route, while never forgoing the dark carnival vibe that fans have grown to expect. Trumpets blare, pianos twinkle eerily, and creamy spy basslines walk about, as a central theme winds in and out of the movements' reprises. Despite using MIDI keytones, the big band songs sound remarkably organic and at times massive, perfectly paying tribute to Elmer Bernstein's Man with the Golden Arm, and John Barry's From Russia with Love with a Latin tinge of Nestor Marconi thrown in for good measure. On a few tracks, Patton lets loose some vocal work, refraining from screeching or scatting, but crooning with passionate abandon. "A Perfect Twist (Vocal)" could be an outtake from Mr. Bungle's opus California, with handclaps, '60s organs, surf guitar, and tastefully snotty caterwauling, as Patton threatens, "I'll bend you over my knee, let's see what you can take." It's quite a departure from the sweet old-timey Rudy Vallée ragtime of "Dream of Roses," and completely on the other side of the spectrum from the operatic "Il Cupo Dupore," but despite the variety of song styles, the album remains congruent. It's a stellar soundtrack, even if you're not a huge fan of Patton's eccentricities. If you are, this will be further proof of his genius.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
blue highlight denotes track pick