Romances – STYLUS (Review)




If you’re a fan of either of these artists then this release isn’t going to surprise or confound you. In fact, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a full-length collaboration like this was in the cards from the moment that Norwegian Kaada signed onto Ipecac’s roster. Patton has collaborated with nearly everyone on the label. As such, those unaware of the full Patton picture apart from Faith No More or Fantomas’ debut could be expecting raspberries blown over a stilted orchestra interspersed with grind Metal and Patton screaming “sex crime”, while Kaada bangs a triangle in a well. That’s why it’s so nice to hear the side of Patton’s vocals that still inhabits a sleazy red velvet lounge in full effect, sliding neatly into Kaada’s musical beds.


Romances sounds like it wants to be a 70s soundtrack to a European romance. That being said, there’s an edge of cobwebs, greasy sexual obsession and general oddness here that prevents it from ever being used as a conventional seduction backing track. But if you should ever get a gonorritic Wednesday Addams back to your place and need some tunes to soundtrack unpicking her stitches, then this is the record.


Here, and in his solo work, Kaada uses traditional (even folky) instrumentation in ways beyond mere sampling and placement in unusual contexts. His love of show-tunes, found sounds and his approach to ‘borrowing’ invests the album with a depth beyond just straight kitsch.


Take what seems to be the hook from Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” on “L’Absent” or the Forties Musicals aura and choral parts that surround the rise and fall of “Nuit Silencieuse”. Even though the music is strung-out and spacey through its structure (recurring vocal and piano themes over verse / chorus structures), it’s grounded in melodicism. Kaada takes melody, however, and twists it ever so slightly into a sort of cinematic freak show. This is most evident on “Pensee des Morts”’ twisted chorus and “Invocation”’s Waits-ian organ that has more than a little Vincent Price in it. “Aubade” is the most epic of the tracks, clocking in at over eleven minutes and moving through Fantomasian mini lulls / peaks, soft instrumental passages and varied vocals. Luckily, it still retains a quirky kooky flow, ignoring Lounge’s infamous instrumental longueurs.


Whether this interests anyone but fans of these two is debatable. It will most likely only reach the status of curi