Tomahawk – Oddfellows

Tomahawk01In the realm of music in general (never mind all things heavy), there are few artists as impenetrable as Mike Patton. From the incendiary experimentalism of Faith No More to the utterly bizarre genre-dodging of Mr. Bungle – and let’s not forget Fantômas, Peeping Tom and his genuinely terrifying compositions made entirely from the myriad noises he can produce with those ridiculously versatile pipes – his is an unfathomable talent that runs a gamut that would daunt even the most inventive metal musicians, and a talent that has put him up there with the Frank Zappa’s and Tom Waits’ of this world. With that, there is a tangible sense of anticipation that comes with any forthcoming release he’s involved in, and this latest offering from Tomahawk has been a long time coming.

Though among Patton’s simpler projects, a Tomahawk record still comes with its fair share of dementia, as evidenced on the album’s title track, but what’s instantly striking about the vast majority of the tracks on Oddfellows is just how much it calls to mind latter day Faith No More. Lead single ‘Stone Letter’ wouldn’t look at all out of place on King For A Day…Fool For A Lifetime, while the unsettling sedation of ‘I.O.U.’ has shades of ‘Stripsearch’ and ‘Pristina’ from FNM’s swansong Album Of The Year all over it. How much of this is down to Patton himself is up for debate of course, and while the shades of the band that gave him his name reinforce the void they left in their wake, they thankfully don’t take anything away from Oddfellows as a whole, and there’s more than enough here to keep this a suitably distinct affair. ‘Rise Up Dirty Waters’ has an irresistibly deranged jazz flavour to its verses before it switches to a deformed rockabilly in its chorus, while the almost industrial stylings of ‘The Quiet Few’ is the soundtrack to the worst nightmare you’ve ever had, all at the hands of some typically esoteric guitar work from Duane Denison. Furthermore, the addition of Trevor Dunn on bass (who’s work you can hear on Mr. Bungle’s discography) adds extra gravitas to Patton’s knack for selecting unbeatable rhythm sections, as he locks in unmistakeably with long standing drummer John Stanier on the punk-but-not-as-you-know-it ‘South Paw’ and provides a potent groove to ‘Waratorium’ even in light of its odd time signature.

But if there’s a criticism to be made about Oddfellows, it’s that it seems a little afraid to outstay its welcome. The likes of ‘”I Can Almost See Them”’ and ‘A Thousand Eyes’ come and go before you’ve had a chance to wrap your head around them, and the nauseating sway of ‘Baby Let’s Play___’ restrains itself before it becomes too peculiar. But maybe that’s its purpose, for if there’s a defining factor in Mike Patton’s career, it’s that you’ll find no two records in his entire discography that sound completely alike, whether that be in terms of execution or music, and while it doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights attained on their stunning debut all the way back in 2001, it does serve to remind us what extraordinary musicians Patton and the rest of Tomahawk are and always have been. Now then – who’s for a UK tour?

Oddfellows is out now via Ipecac Recordings


Track Listing:

1. Oddfellows

2. Stone Letter

3. I.O.U.

4. White Hats / Black Hats

5. A Thousand Eyes

6. Rise Up Dirty Waters

7. The Quiet Few

8. “I Can Almost See Them”

9. South Paw

10. Choke Neck

11. Waratorium

12. Baby Let’s Play___

13. Typhoon

Tomahawk are:

Mike Patton – Vocals, keyboards and samples

Duane Denison – Guitar

Trevor Dunn – Bass

John Stanier – Drums

Band links:

About Del Preston

So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head 'round the door, and mentions there's a little sweet shop on the edge of town. So - we go. And - it's closed. So there's me and Keith Moon and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweet shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shop owner and his son, that's a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business really. But sure enough, I got the M&Ms and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.