He’s scored soundtracks for some of the last decade’s most central Norwegian motion pictures, he’s an acclaimed solo artist and a member of hard-hitting punk-jazz heroes Cloroform. Now John Erik Kaada teams up with ex. Faith No More frontman Mike Patton for 'Romances'- an outing that challenges the lyric-epic format implied by the title as well as the limits of the duo setting.
Out now on Ipecac Recordings is the fruit of the Patton/Kaada collaboration: ‘Romances’ – featuring backdrops weaved by Kaada with elements from soul, easy listening, R&B and eclecticism into a fitting tapestry for Mike Patton to lend his instrument-like vocals. ‘Romances’ is an eerily addicting work with inspirations from Mahler, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt and Bartok and song titled influence by French song titles of the 1800s. Patton takes the rich background that partner Kaada lays out and vocally plays upon the parts provided. From the unpredictable vocal sounds to the most fluid singing to leave Patton’s throat in some time, this album showcases all of the many reasons why Patton fans are inspired by his many identities. Carrying forward his listeners from Faith No More to Mr. Bungle to Fantômas to Tomahawk and so on, Mike Patton has built up a diehard group of listeners who are believers in the true meaning of experimentation.
At the centre of ‘Romances’ is a slow-moving large piece based in late romanticism which again is made up of nine smaller pieces, resembling a symphony’s compositional structure. Says Kaada on ‘Romances’ construction: “There’s a lot of classical music-history buried in this album, but I believe or I at least hope that we haven’t made something that will be called a ‘crossover’ album between classical and rock. There have been too many bad attempts to do this through the last 35 years.”
In many ways, ‘Romances’ pays homage to Kaada’s musical upbringing that included classical training from age 6 to 20 and a repertoire spanning form Liszt, Brahms, Mahler, Debussy, Ravel and Bartok. Says Kaada on the link between the classical composers and his current duo album: “When those guys wrote a set of songs they referred to them as “romances”. So we did the same thing – and stole the titles from those guys. The titles are stolen from old pieces from the romantic period. We collected a lot of title-suggestions, but ended up with putting them all in French. We liked the sound of it, and think it fits nicely into the romances-universe.”
Says Kaada on the conception of ‘Romances’: The cooperation with the album started for real when the Kaada-band joined in on the Ipecac-geek tour summer2003. We travelled around Europe, and had some time off to develop the direction of the album. The first vocal-takes where done in hotel rooms. Since then, we've been sending CDs to each other every month. It has been a long process for both of us to finish up this album. In January2004, I thought we were all done. I was so tired of mixing and working on the music. Not in the sense that I was tired of the composition, but more in a technical way. This isn't music where, you know..., you have one bass track, a snare drum track etc... This is a complex and colourful sound universe, with tons of different instruments. So it was difficult to get them all together, and to get a nice flow in the music.... Anyway, I sent a CD over in January 2004, thinking that I was done. Wrong. We went on for a period of eight months overtime. I promised myself that after that album, I would only record mono-guitar pieces, with one mic, one track. Not music with hundreds of tracks and instruments. We both had very strong opinions about how the Romances should sound, so that didn't make it any easier.”
Says Kaada on the sharing of the workload “I was in charge of most of the technical stuff, like recording the additional musicians, but we both composed just as much. We both play different instruments and sing on most of the tunes while Patton did the lyrics on track 2 and track 7. The contributions on the album, all in all, are about 50% Mike and 50% me.”
Kaada’s output includes his two highly acclaimed solo albums ‘Thank you for giving me your valuable time’ (Ipecac 2003) and ‘MECD’ (2004). With power free-blow trio Cloroform he’s put out five well-received albums: ‘Deconstruction’, ‘All Scars’, ‘Do the crawl’, ‘Scrawl’ (re-mix compilation) and ‘Hey you let’s kiss’.
Kaada has composed scores for such central Norwegian films as ‘Mongoland’, ‘Hawaii, Oslo’, ‘7th Heaven’ and ‘All about my father’. He’s also contributed to the well-known ski movie ‘WarrenMillers Journey’.
‘Romances’ has already generated a strong buzz – the project web-site has clocked in more than 20 – 60 000 unique users daily over the last two months. Ipecac have to date shipped out 75 000 units of ‘Romances’, and are planning a second print run. Kaada’s first solo outing ‘Thank you for giving me your valuable time” sold more than 50 000 on Ipecac.
As for the future, any plans of a new Patton/Kaada album? “We’ve started doing some sound-experiments and stuff,” says Kaada “but it is too early to tell if this will ever turn into a new album, or anything at all.”