ike Patton is one of the most charismatic men in rock, undeniably naturally talented, frankly opinionated with a zero bullshit tolerance policy and has a healthy disgust with the business mechanics of the music industry.
He’s probably done more than anyone to bring experimental, harsh and truly leftfield music into the headphones of alternative rock and rock/rap listeners. Come to think of it, he’s also a prominent figure in the rise of chin only beards, ¾ length trousers and eyebrow piercings (a look I have much admired and partially copied). His constant collaborations, live experiments with disparate acts (recently with Zorn, X-ecutioners Dillinger Escape Plan and Rahzel), as well as his multiple band experiences have seen him pushing himself further than most artists are willing to go.
That’s why the latest album from one of his main musical projects is hardly a surprise, even if it is composed of only one track. As you would expect of a single piece lasting 74 minutes, Delirium Cordia (meaning heart condition or murmur in slightly altered Latin) moves through several different shades of mood (of the darker persuasion) recalling and revolving around the sounds and snatches of a deliberately sinister melodic motif, a dark piano piece reminiscent of the vocal theme of Rosemary’s Baby.
Even though the tagline for the LP is ‘Surgical sound specimens from the Museum of Skin’, don’t expect any A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure style sounds from inside butchered flesh (although I can imagine Patton wouldn’t have shied away from such experiments). Breaking this down to its core elements, it’s a horror movie soundtrack; a balefully themed exercise in prompting your imagination to lurch down a particular alley. I’ll admit to being a little apprehensive (does that sound better than scared, ladies?) of the dark, but not in a witching hour of ghosts and ghouls way. It’s more of a ‘there is a fevered mentalist with surgical equipment somewhere in the flat’ way. Bereft of sight, my imagination takes over and it’s warped enough with Fantomas pitching in.
Crawling through sections of rhythm explosions, streams of dribbling dripping liquids (it’s blood! Blood I tell you!) and wordless Monk chanting a la The Omen, this is engaging and frightening material. These razor edged peaks and bloody troughs sometimes lead off the musical map into moments of bewilderment as you hear the scrambling panic of someone attempting to revive a body (7.18), while the music rises to engorging atonal unforgiving chimes. The Dave Lombardo percussive detonations meld with the wordless Patton vocal spluttering and lead me off into visions of gore splattering.
There are irregular revisits to a melody as the piano theme twists into a creepy whistling. The subject matter of surgery and the recently opened viscous body is ever present and it’d be easy to imagine this being co-opted in the near future. It only loses the pitch black arterial feel at several different points when snatches of found radio sound (a bloody hymn of all things), tweeting birds, saw music, a didgeridoo and an extended passage of nothing but the wind enter into the mix.
As record companies began to quietly vocalise their seditious interest in offering their releases as downloads as well as ‘real’ records, LP artwork could be edging towards inconsequentiality. By delaying Delirium Cordia’s release for three months simply to ensure the quality of the creepy as hell artwork shows an unheard of dedication to their art. I can’t say that it was really worth the wait, unfortunately. Although it held my attention throughout its entirety, I don’t see it as a release you can draw much from through repeated listening, but it’s a brave and powerful trip nonetheless.
Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2004-02-12