Tomahawk - _Anonymous_
(Ipecac, 2007)
by: Jeremy Ulrey (9.5 out of 10)
It sounds lame as all hell to expound upon an artist's work in such trite terms as "expect the unexpected", but Mike Patton's one of the few guys who fearlessly follows his muse into whatever twisted musical amusement park it takes him, and each time the funhouse mirrors refract something almost completely unprecedented back at us. The only real connection between Patton's various bands / albums, when you get right down to it, is a sort of psycho-ADD umbrella of tongue-in-cheek endeavors which sound as if they're both taking the piss and dead serious at the same time.

Even the output of each of Patton's bands varies as consistently between releases as the differences between the bands themselves. _Anonymous_ is one of the more egregious examples of this anomaly. The first two Tomahawk albums walked a fine line between the carnival avant-gardisms of Fantomas and Mr. Bungle and the more rock-like accessibility of Faith No More / Peeping Tom. _Anonymous_ may as well be an entirely new band altogether, except that it sounds more in keeping with the name Tomahawk as anything previously released, the entirety of it being an alternately brooding and primitively funky take on Native American music. "War Song" and "Cradle Song" are darkly ambient, ominous explorations, a paean to blackened storm clouds encroaching across the horizon. Other songs -- ie. "Antelope Ceremony", "Mescal Rite I" -- are playful romps that bring to mind celebrating a good year's harvest or maybe just too much peyote indulgence.

Apparently the whole thing consists of songs adapted from published transcriptions of actual Native American ritual songs, but one way or another it's obvious certain "liberties" have been taken, and it's to Patton's credit that he manages to take the piss while at the same time honoring the spirit of the material in an off-kilter, schizophrenic sort of way. A combination of primitive and modern instruments (even filtered, NIN-esque synths rear their head on "Mescal Rite II") synthesize Patton's fish-eye lens vision, overdriven guitars sitting alongside rain sticks and authentic Native American percussive instruments, and English vocals are forced into stark contrast with group chants. Somehow it all works, if nothing else just for the sheer audacious improbability of it all. A real watermark for Patton, the undisputed court jester of the post-Zappa musical landscape.

Contact: http://www.ipecac.com/

(article published 3/10/2007)


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