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Peeping Tom Review

by Travis Becker

Mike Patton, quickly becoming one of the most prolific artists ever in terms of sheer output, unleashes yet another finished product with the 2006 release of Peeping Tom. Not so much a band or collective, Peeping Tom is presented as a soundtrack of sorts to the Sixties movie of the same name. Featuring Patton's distinctive vocal styling and atmospheric arrangements with back big beats and guest stars from the wide-ranging worlds of Hip Hop, Electronica, and Jazz. The unadventurous need not apply.

Patton has a loyal following among Rock fans. His albums with Faith No More are classics and even some of his more obtuse projects like Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk are still regarded well by critics and invite sampling by fans of his other work. Peeping Tom exists much further outside of your typical Rock and Roller's comfort zone. Minimal use of guitar and very intimate, patient, songs may turn some people off. If Tool created an album of only the shorter interludes included between their songs, it might live in the same neighborhood as Peeping Tom. The music isn't exactly artsy or pretentious, but it does send signals that some thought may be required to fully grasp what Patton is going for.

Patton's influences have always been pretty far flung. Let's not forget who truly fused Rock and Hip Hop in a successful song first. "Epic", Faith No More's breakthrough single showed that the two genres could be mixed seamlessly. Patton clearly still holds Hip Hop close to his heart. Much of the production and some of the lyrical style pay tribute to Hip Hop and the opening song has a Dr. Dre-like ring to the production.

"Mojo", featuring Rahzel, the human beatbox, highlights the early part of the record. It's difficult to believe that some of the sounds on this track are coming from the mouth of a human being, but those familiar with Rahzel's work will only be able to smile and nod. "Your Neighborhood Spacemen" trips along nicely as well. Its mellow vibe doesn't last, however, as there are some creepy Patton-moments stuck into the song as well. Some of the affectations Patton can lend to his own voice are so trademark that other vocalists will be trying to copy them long after Patton is gone. Perhaps the greatest moment on the record, however, comes near the end. The song "Sucker" features Norah Jones, the adult contemporary Jazz sensation of a couple of years ago. Her vocals are echoed and mixed with Patton's, but it's her liberal use of the old F-bomb that really gets your attention. She and Patton make a cute vocal couple.

It's hard to say just where Peeping Tom fits into today's musical jigsaw puzzle. It's a musical collage inspired by a forty-five year old movie made by an artist who is as abstract as they come.

Thematically, it exudes unity, but the players are as diverse as one could ask for. Not a compilation, not exactly a straightforward record by a straightforward band, the record defies easy explanation. It does include a remix of the exceptional collaboration between Patton and Dub Trio from that bands album, and Peeping Tom will be a better opportunity for fans of Patton to pick the track up without getting a bunch of non-Patton material. To bite a line from Monty Python in conclusion: "And now for something completely different." There isn't a better way to say it.

CD Info and Links

Peeping Tom

Label:Ipecac Recordings 2006
Rating:(Norah Jones gets half a star all by herself)

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