14 February, 2005@12:00 am
While the name Mike Patton is celebrity among dedicated rock listeners, for many hip-hop heads it remains faceless. For those that don’t know, Patton is the creative force behind Faith No More, and if that’s still not ringing any bells, the infectious hook to the band’s turn-of-the-90′s hit “Epic” should: “Yoooooou waaaaant it all but you can’t haaaaave iiiit / it’s in your face but you can’t graaaaab iiiiiit…” Patton was also 1/3 of the creative force behind Lovage: Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, along with Handsome Boy Modelling School founder Nathaniel Merriweather (aka Dan The Automator) and Elysian Field’s vocalist Jennifer Charles. Of course, the X-ecutioners are no strangers to the trained hip-hop ear, as the trio of Rob Swift, Total Eclipse, and Roc Raida are New York City’s premier deejay troupe, each with their share of trophies on the battle circuit. On General Patton Vs. The X-ecutioners, the two worlds collide, as the quartet engage in an hour long on soundclash the musical battlefield.
Not a “mash-up” per say, but more of a “cut-and-paste” style of album, with minor strokes of brilliance sprinkled in between a hodgepodge of random samples and sounds. The running theme of war is loosely kept throughout the album, executed on sinister selections such as “Get Up Punk” and “Dueling Bans Marching Drill” where Patton’s eeire vocals mesh perfectly with X-Ecutioners hard-hitting drum tracks and cuts. The same can be send for beautifully produced selections such as “Fire In The Hole”, “Take A Piece Of Me”, and “Loser On Line” where the musical synergy captured between the two acts mirrors in quality anything Patton has done with Dan The Automator. Meanwhile, we see Patton flex his trademark vocal muscles on “General P. Counterintelligence” and “Vaqueros and Indios”, as he vocally mimics the turntablists’ scratches with his own voice – you can’t tell who’s doing what!
But for all of it’s moments of musical splendor, unfortunately the strange pace and strong sense of randomness of General Patton Vs. The X-ecutioners is it’s downfall. As mentioned before, the “cut-and-paste” approach to the record keeps it unpredictable, but also drowns out it’s finer moments with poor arrangement and a sense of being-experimental-just-for-the-sake-of-being-experimental-ness. Random samples from virtually all forms of music are inserted at any given time, along with strange scratch routines that don’t necessarily contribute to the big picture. Just when your head is nodding to one of the album’s well-crafted musical collaborations, it’s interrupted by strange movie samples or other noise. While this type of unpredictability has worked well for cut-and-paste arteurs such as Stienski (The Lessons) Coldcut (“Let Us Play”), DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist (“Brainfreeze”), unfortunately it’s not as well executed here, no pun intended.
Still, for lovers of music that goes against the grain, GP Vs. X will provide satisfaction, while others will enjoy it in small doses, rather than the continuous evolving opera its presented as. The randomness may not be good for seducing your lady, and may create a worse form of road-rage if stuck in traffic, but will instead work perfectly as part of a frat hazing ritual or the soundtrack to weed-brownie trip. Hopefully Patton’s next engagement with hip-hop artists will be another victory for all.
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