In pre-festival chat circles, this Mike Patton tag team event at the Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville seemed to fuel more interesting possibilities than his collaboration with Fennesz , or even Rahzel for that matter. After all, Rome’s Zu has joined creative forces with everyone from Eugene Chadbourne to Ken Vandermark, and Mats Gustafsson just recently. In other words, Zu could be counted on for making ideal collaboration decisions.
To be honest, the preview call was on the button, but this turned out to be a whole filthier than I had envisioned- with the muddy dueling of Massimo Pupillo’s power electric fuzz bass and Luca Tommaso Mai’s alto and baritone sax- both members of Italy’s Zu. The end result was a fine mixture of brownish improv punk rock and power jazz. There were even silver metallic dirges thrown in, to boot. This was impressive from the start- and clear that Zu had been touring persistently for the past month.
Like he’s done for years since Faith No More (and that’s going back) Mike Patton masterfully conveyed his energy as a vocalist and texture tactician. While adding some aggression with yelps and quacks, he pushed everything into the red with a collection of bleeps, noise patches, effect noodles, and crazy samples from his positioning behind the sound bench- working perfectly with the trio’s overwhelming presence (and right down Patton’s ramshackle alley).
Any form of jazz semblance amidst the outrageous intensity was provided by L.T. Mai and his electrifying use of the alto and baritone saxes. His emotional screeching purely exploited the moment. Also noteworthy was his use of a touch microphone that gave him the ability to further tap into rhythms, while matching the nervy motored improvisations of Pupillo’s bass. Drummer Jaco Battaglia took care of the rest, as he was able to court the skins into submission.
One of the many highlight moments came in the encore- when things got harmonic before a late explosion- with Patton offering a fiery vocal display of swallowing and heavy breathing, alongside some form of breathing through Mai’s saxophone, bringing to mind the seductive and experimental psychedelics of various Ennio Morricone soundtracks. Even Patton’s modified whistling sounded like birds; delightful in every sense of the word.
« (…) l’ex-chanteur de Faith No More s’est associé au superbe trio italien Zu, dont l’énergie incroyable puise à la fois dans le rock, le jazz contemporain et le bruitisme sauvage. Quelle interaction ! » La Presse, Mardi 23 mai 2006, Alain Brunet