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Why Faith No More's frontman Mike Patton teamed up with composer John Kaada

The creative combination of Norwegian composer John Kaada and Californian polymath Mike Patton return for their second collaborative release as Kaada/Patton, that blends classical, jazz, film

If there’s one thing that unites fans of progressive music, it’s a never-ending thirst for the new. Not every artist can pursue a fully liberated creative path, of course, and there is plenty to be said for great songwriting and supreme musicianship, but music’s evolution depends greatly on people like Mike Patton. Since his early days as frontman with perverse art metal maniacs Mr. Bungle and, most famously, arena-bothering oddballs Faith No More, the Californian has spent the majority of his artistic life exploring the outer limits of sound, collaborating with a dizzying number of celebrated mavericks and obscure weirdos and releasing a steady stream of mind-bending records via his own much-admired Ipecac imprint. In truth, the joy of being a fan of Mike Patton is that one never has the faintest clue what’s going to come next.

Prog speaks to Patton today to herald the release of his second collaborative album with Norwegian film composer and freewheeling classical pianist John Kaada. Twelve years on from their first joint effort, the wonderfully bizarre Romances, this seemingly unlikely pairing has once again conjured a collection of songs that casually straddle the daunting chasms between classical, jazz, film noir ambience and the sonic avant-garde. Simultaneously accessible and distinctly unsettling, Bacteria Cult is the sound of Norway and California colliding in soft focus and slow motion, as two old pals dive enthusiastically into a peculiar world of their own making.

“We originally met somewhere on the road, in Scandinavia I think, and he was playing with his band Cloroform, which I really loved,” says Patton. “That was the entry point into his world, for me. Then he started sending me some stuff that he was working on. I just thought, ‘Wow, this is amazing!’ So I asked him to do a record for Ipecac, and it just grew from there. At that point it wasn’t about collaborating, it was more, ‘Wow, this guy is doing really great stuff and I’d like to help out in any way I can…’”

“I think Mike felt something refreshing and inspiring about what I was doing,” adds Kaada. “I was surprised that he jumped right in, but he did. I’ve learned a lot from him and I also learned that it’s all in the details! He didn’t let go. He was really, really, totally into the process and I thought it would go on forever because he was working on the songs for many, many months. Finally it was released and that was it. The next stage was then at Roskilde festival in 2005 [as documented on 2007’s Kaada/Patton Live album] when we played together for one show. Seven, eight years later, I sent him some songs again and here we are today.”

Patton’s chameleon tendencies over the past two decades have seen him join forces with everyone from left-field jazz titan John Zorn and Japanese noise guru Merzbow through to hip-hop DJ unit The X-Ecutioners and Australian composer Anthony Pateras. What seems to set Bacteria Cult apart from many of the vocal polymath’s more esoteric projects is that beauty consistently triumphs over ugliness, despite the macabre mental images evoked by songtitles like Peste Bubonica and A Burnt Out Case. Patton puts the album’s lush and meticulously crafted sound down to the skills of his musical co-pilot.

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