In WIth the Old

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - INDULGE -

ICAN’T PIN­POINT ex­actly why I reached out for Faith No More’s L ive in Ger­many al­bum last week. Faith No More’s mu­sic is sup­posed to be hard, heavy and is usu­ally clas­si­fied as al­ter­na­tive metal, not a genre that I nat­u­rally pre­cip­i­tate to­wards. But I did. Maybe it was af­ter read­ing about the in­cred­i­bly stun­ning vo­cal range of the band’s front­man Mike Pat­ton — he is gifted with a sixoc­tave vo­cal range; maybe I’d had an un­set­tling few weeks of travel, was get­ting used to an un­fa­mil­iar new rou­tine, and had just taken a devil-may-care dive into un­charted wa­ters; or maybe it was just a clas­sic eff-you kind of mo­ment — of the what-the-heck-let’s-lis­ten-to-some­thing loud sort. L ive in Ger­many is an al­bum that came out af­ter the Cal­i­for­nia band, whose first in­ning spanned 1979-98, re­united in 2009. The gig in Ger­many (or gigs; I’m not sure whether it was one or more) was as I had ex­pected: bois­ter­ous; full of lively front­man-to-au­di­ence in­ter­ac­tions, in­clud­ing one in­stance where the band didn’t be­gin a song be­fore Pat­ton had shushed them into si­lence; and the songs were full-bod- to be a dif­fer­ent sort of heavy metal mu­si­cian (his sole drug of choice is caf­feine, by the way) who has a reper­toire that in­cludes a vast range of projects and gen­res. My next stop was to lis­ten to him sing­ing Che Notte in Ital­ian off his solo al­bum Mondo Cane, which is recorded with a 40-piece orches­tra and a big band and whose song list is a rein­ven­tion of Ital­ian oldies. Pat­ton, in­ci­den­tally, is flu­ent in Ital­ian and also sings in Span­ish. Be­sides, his huge vo­cal range al­lows him to growl and croon; sing in falsetto or vo­cally sim­u­late a beat­box; and do other things with his voice with­out the aid of tech­nol­ogy that few singers can think of.

Then there are his projects. From Mr. Bun­gle, an early ex­per­i­men­tal rock band that he formed while in school (he’s 48 now) to Fan­tomas, a su­per­group that draws mem­bers from Slayer, Mr. Bun­gle and Melvins; from Tom­a­hawk (an­other su­per­group draw­ing its mem­bers from metal bands) to the math­core band, Dillinger Es­cape Plan, Pat­ton dab­bles in a lot. I found it good to start ex­plor­ing his work with Faith No More al­bums. The L ive in Ger­many one, for sure, but also all of the stu­dio al­bums. There’s a lot to choose from but if you do as I did, you’d go for 1989’s The Real Thing (it has the War Pigs cover), 1995’s King for a D ay, Fool for a L ife­time (if you’re feel­ing par­tic­u­larly an­gry about some­thing or some­one, check out the very sat­is­fy­ing The Gen­tle Art of Mak­ing En­e­mies); and their most re­cent, last year’s Sol In­vic­tus (lis­ten to Cone of Shame, a grad­u­ally de­vel­op­ing blast of heavy metal). And then, as I said be­fore, you could con­trast all of this with Pat­ton’s Mondo Cane. Or bet­ter still, go to YouTube and watch him do the en­tire al­bum live in Chile at the Teatro Caupolicán in San­ti­ago (it’s in HD, btw).

Like many great bands, Faith No More is of­ten un­der­rated and Mike Pat­ton not as well-known as he ought to be. As for Faith No More, many later bands, in­clud­ing Nir­vana, Slip­knot, Alice in Chains, Guns N’ Roses and even, ahem, Me­tal­lica, have ac­knowl­edged the band’s in­flu­ence on their mu­sic. All the more rea­son to check them out. Okay, not a metal fan? Then pick just one song by Faith No More as a taster. My tip: choose Epic, which is among their most pop­u­lar. There. Hooked? Tail­piece: Just as my im­mer­sion into Faith No More and Mike Pat­ton’s work was get­ting deeper, I got a new lead in my ef­forts to dis­cover more mu­sic. Jeremy Steig was an Amer­i­can jazz flutist who died in April this year. I’d never heard of him and was pointed to his work by a friend who’s a big fan of Steig’s late fa­ther Wil­liam Steig, a cel­e­brated car­toon­ist (cre­ator of Shrek and pro­lific con­trib­u­tor to The New Y orker). The lead came with two al­bums — Fu­sion from the early 1970s and Howlin’ For Judy from 2008. I put on Howlin’ first and within se­conds got blown away by what I’d never thought a flute could sound like. I’m still in the throes of dis­cov­er­ing Steig’s mu­sic. Those two al­bums are now on con­stant re­peat on my playlist. And I’ve de­light­edly found that from the early 1960s to 2008, his discog­ra­phy is gar­gan­tuan. That’s not count­ing his con­sid­er­able other work as a side­man. So much mu­sic is right out there!

Like many great bands, Faith No More is of­ten un­der­rated and its front­man Mike Pat­ton not as well­known as he ought to be

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