Dan the Automator
From the depths of the esoteric genius that is Mike Patton comes one of the most shockingly original pop albums we have ever heard! Get ready to relive your Faith No More and Mr. Bungle days while witnessing the reinvention of pop music, the Mike Patton way. Peeping Tom presents an album full of satirical messages of the music industry, life, and capturing artistry before fame. Mike Patton utilizes the incredible talents of many renowned guest DJs and singers to bring listeners through an entourage of unique sounds. Peeping Tom exemplifies the mystery of music and pays homage to art before anything else. Mike Patton croons imaginative lyrics with mastery of diction, painting images in the mind to spellbind listeners. Take a clever passage from “Don’t even trip”:
“Speak up now, and one of you is a hundred loud. When you preach, they’ll join you on the roofs and streets. Crystal clear, I’m hangin’ like a chandelier, watchin’ over you, I’ll move you from a song to tears. And I know that a**holes grow on trees, but I’m here to trim the leaves, and I’m afraid that you’re still my friend. And you’re still a piece of s*** but I can overlook it today, cause you’re still my friend”
Throughout the album Peeping Tom proves their cleverness by presenting listeners with a mix of electronic ambient tracks and looped beats to support Patton and other guest singer’s booming vocals. Most of the songs offer slower, more dramatic beats with powerful swells that build until the end, where Peeping Tom brings you back down and keeps you wanting more.
If you have been privy to the live Peeping Tom performance, you have experienced the eclectic mix of musical talent performing with Mike Patton. From drums, to DJs, to guest singers, to violinists, this collaboration offers many awesome grooves to enjoy.
Peeping Tom remains a definite listen for any fans of Mike Patton, DJs, pop music, hip hop, electronic, and those refined music lovers who have heard it all and seek combinations of sounds and genres they have never heard before. Not only is this album one of Mike Patton’s most accessible to the mainstream since his Faith No More days, it remains one of the most inventive pop albums on the scene. Peeping Tom proves that creativity comes in forms that everyone can explore if they know where to look.
You won’t be sorry for checking out this album!
From the opening gong on the track “Five Seconds”, to the ethereal electronic fade out on the track “We’re Not Alone”, Peeping Tom offers unhindered ingenuity through their incredible lyrics and impeccable musicianship. Their choice to pay homage to the original DJs of the past through electronic tracks that sound like outer space special effects demonstrates their respect for the authentic founders of hip hop. Peeping Tom aims to please listeners with a truly unique listening experience based on the pop genre, and their passion alone remains awe inspiring.
Peeping Tom shows immense respect for artists through the heavy use of guest DJs and singers. This adds incredible diversity to the album overall, and brings a fresh sound to every song on the album. Each guest DJ offers an interesting twist to the song structures centered on drums, bass, guitars, and ambient sounds, and this adds depth to the music. Most of the instrumental rhythms remain straight forward, but there are some intricate rhythms found throughout the album as well, especially when Patton and guest singers and rappers offer vocal onslaughts that play off each other’s timing.
The obvious musical showcase is Mike Patton’s incredibly dynamic vocal arsenal. However, a very close second consists of the diverse atmospheres created by the group of guest artists. Not only do they contribute interesting compositions, but their approach adds substantial depth to the songs through utilizing an unending arsenal of diverse instrument tracks and excellent application of dynamics.
Peeping Tom has impressive instrumentation on this album, exhibited by their ability to create so many different moods while presenting a cohesive piece of art. The mix changes for different songs, but it makes sense due to the presence of so many guest artists. Even still, the musical theme of the album is bound by the adventurous smorgasbord of styles and genres. Somehow, with all of this diversity, they managed to make every song sound like it belongs on the album, exactly where they placed it. That feat alone is worthy of composer’s delight.
Mike Patton, the man of 1,000 voices, explores the full extent of his vocal abilities, including his amazing singing range, his ability to change the sound of his voice to compliment the song, melodic shouting, and even rapping! Even more, his lyrics are just purely brilliant. He uses many forms of sound repetition besides just end-of-line rhyme – certainly a recipient of MYnstrel’s future “mouth made of drums” award. His words are not just delivered. The clever placement of sound repetitions in the lyrics truly makes his voice into another percussive instrument in the mix.
Add this to his facility with switching in a split second from his chest to falsetto, to distorted scream-singing, and any other manipulation of the voice-instrument that you can imagine, is it any wonder why Mike Patton is so renowned? Most singers use vibrato and falsetto as typical techniques. Mike Patton has about fifty techniques to change the voice-instrument’s expressive characteristic. It’s like he carries the guitarists’ equivalent of a $1,000 effects processor in his chest, throat and mouth.
Peeping Tom offers vastly unbounded and entertaining art with a focus on imagery, diversity of moods, and fun. Through various beats and mixing elements of different genres, this album piques listeners’ interest and creates a one-of-a-kind pop music approach. Peeping Tom inspires listeners to tap their desire for the creative and eccentric with thoughtful expressions and poetic imagery. Give this one a listen more than a few times. We contend that the casual music listener will eventually turn from scratching their head to smiling, grooving, and singing along!
Setting the Record Straight
MYnstrel has been made aware of some unfair press and slanderous reviews of this album. Some of the ideas we found to be particularly unjust:
“The group performed the song ‘Mojo’, which, according to literal interpretation, is from the perspective of a drug addict. (This is especially interesting since Patton has claimed to have never used drugs in his life.)”
Our thoughts on this? The author may be disappointed that Patton makes the drug addict in the song regretful of their behavior with the line “I can’t believe I did it again” and the hints of negative consequence, violence, and isolation discussed in other lines. Perhaps the author is pro-narcotics?
Secondly, if artists can’t write music about things in the world that they haven’t personally experienced, we’re in big trouble. I guess Iron Maiden shouldn’t have written that epic song “Aces High” since they never flew a fighter airplane in World War 2? I guess all of the urban music songwriters who talk about drug deals, gangs, and murder need to be felons? I guess all of the anti-military musicians shouldn’t write their war protest songs if they haven’t fought in a war before, or they don’t have education in national security and martial affairs?
This is preposterous. Artists in the music industry have just as much license to write about topics and concepts they find to be interesting even if they don’t have the personal experience. We purport to be educated people. We hope that we can come to an understanding of concepts and topics without necessarily having experienced them firsthand. And it’s supposed to be entertainment, let’s remember that and enjoy it as such.
The next slander:
“For all the great ideas and fantastic moments sprinkled throughout Peeping Tom, it turns out that Mike Patton’s idea of pop is as uncompromising as his other musical notions. In this case, what’s great in theory doesn’t work so well in practice.”
MYnstrel flat out rejects this statement. How could such a collaboration of different artists be considered uncompromising? Does the author mean that we as artists should comprise to the trend of the day and sell out? Patton allowed many different guest artists the freedom to accentuate his lyrics with their musical prowess. In our estimation, this represents the utmost compromise to present listeners with a unique pop experience.
Secondly, what does the author know about theory? I’ll never forget sitting down with a DJ for the first time, reviewing my dance album. I wrote the album on a keyboard and guitar with sequencing software too. What theories of composition did this DJ show me? None. To this DJ, it was more about techniques, innovation, and styles. DJs are some of the most unbounded and free musicians of today, and as foreign as my traditional music theory was to him – so too was his songwriting technique foreign to me. This was a great experience. Even the notation for record scratching isn’t in widespread use right now. I think the author is mistaken as to how most DJs compose new songs.
There were other slanders that don’t even deserve mention because of their vulgar and unprofessional nature. Essentially, we ignore comments that are nothing more than name-calling and subjective opinions, with no significant idea underneath.
To Peeping Tom, and the fans out there – we hope that we adequately Set the Record Straight for you!
Personal Connections to this Album
Spotlight Editor, Tommy Kurek’s Personal Connections
I was instructed by my staff to keep my personal connections to this album less than ten pages long. It’s no secret that Faith No More is one of my all-time favorite bands, along with Tomahawk, and now Peeping Tom. Sometimes, less is more; so let me be as brief as I can.
Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” was a favorite of mine growing up. But before my musical skills had developed a lot, I didn’t really understand the rest of Faith No More’s albums. They sounded too diverse for my ears the first few times…much like the first few times I listened to Tool – it just didn’t click.
Thanks to a close friend of mine, I gave both Faith No More and Tool many more chances. Song-by-song, they began clicking and I realized – there is so much thought and talent going into this music and so much diversity of sounds and styles, that it became an experience like nothing else when I finally understood it. It always amazes me how relevant Faith No More’s music remains. I would share it with people decades later, and they would think that it was a brand new band. And yet when I shared other tracks that were more jazzy or 80s, people would think they were an old band, or maybe not even a rock band. A common question: “Why do they have so many singers?” Laughter ensues.
Because of the depth of the music experience, it lasts a very long time before it gets old – if you can manage to ‘get it’. For Mike Patton’s part, I’m not only a fan of his art, but of the way his mind works through his lyrics and composition. I can put this music on whenever I want a smile, a laugh, and a fun time. I enjoy practicing singing Mike Patton’s songs because they challenge my vocal skills. Mike Patton entertains. The three-space around you is his canvas and he will fill it up with vivid sounds and ideas that take you on a rollercoaster of human experience, negative, positive, it doesn’t matter. Nothing is off the table, and all moods are considered.
Congratulations to all of the artists including the maestro Patton who made this album yet another classic in my collection.
Spotlight Editor, Tony Abbruscato’s Personal Connections
Mike Patton remains one of the most imaginative and eclectic geniuses in music today. I remember the first time I heard Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” after my best friend Tom begged me to listen. I soon understood where his passion came from. Not only was I mesmerized by the musical prowess displayed on the album, I remained riveted by the clever singing and drumming. First of all, I had never heard someone do the things with their voice that Mike Patton can do with his; truly an incredible talent. Second, Mike Bordin’s drumming was so unique. I couldn’t place why the drums sounded different from other albums I heard until I went to Ozzfest in 1997 and saw Mike Bordin playing drums for Ozzy. I realized that his left side dominance coupled with a right handed drum set up created an array of sounds I hadn’t explored before. Mike Bordin was one of the first inspirations to get me to start learning ambidextrous drumming techniques!
In addition, I was completely blown away by Faith No More’s cover of “War Pigs”. Mike Patton’s vocals were astounding, and their control of the song and subtle additions during the verses demonstrated their respect for Black Sabbath and their ingenuity to put their own twist on the song. The guitars and drums were simply masterful!
I have to admit I was kind of bummed when Faith No More broke up. They were so ahead of their time; many of my friends have listened to Faith No More for the first time, years after their music was released thinking they are a new band on the music scene. I realized that visionaries often get the credit for their artistry years after its creation when the world finally catches up to them.
When Mike Patton started all of his other musical endeavors, including the groups Fantomas and Tomahawk, I was always amazed at his brazen clash with what the mainstream defined as music. His avant-garde approach was as refreshing as it was mind-boggling. One thing remains certain: only a man like Mike Patton could create the music he does. My most humble respect and admiration continues to go towards this man of 1,000 voices!
Track 2: Mojo
This track represents the beautiful and sardonic wit found throughout the whole album. For example, when Patton sings the chorus lyrics of “Now roll it up and smoke it again, it’s bottoms up and drink it again, now fix it up and shoot it again, I can’t believe I did it again”, Peeping Tom’s commentary on what it means to experience narcotics abuse resounds. Feelings of isolation, regret, hallucination, and violence are also expressed from the perspective of the drug addict.
In the end, Mike Patton makes an hysterical satire on Britney Spears by sarcastically uttering “Oops, I did it again.” Is this a funny jab at the inebriated, tabloid-prone, Jerry-Springer-like, popularatzi, machine-created sensations of pop music? The art is always open for interpretation. Whatever the intent, we got a laugh and good grooving out of this song.
The introduction begins with an impressive beatbox contribution from guest artist Rahzel, and the delay effect adds a lot of depth and interest to this track. Guest DJ Dan the Automator then pounds your speakers with a pulsating tribal loop utilizing guitar, bass, and drum tracks to set up Patton’s impressive vocals. The first verse then starts with Mike Patton singing in his low register and then switching to a higher register in the pre-chorus. The steady driving beat with hi-hats, bass drum, and snare maintains the rhythm of the song, suitable for casual dancing.
The chorus provides one of the most poignant messages on the entire album, with Patton’s vocals sounding reminiscent of his Faith No More past. The backing tracks from Dan the Automator add a lot of depth to the song, and the ambient instrument tracks combined with Rahzel’s beatbox tracks offer great instrumentation. Towards the end of the song, the backing instrumentation utilizes dynamics well to soften, which emphasizes Patton’s vocals and drives home the message of the song.
This song presents one of the most concrete and straightforward song structures you will ever find from Mike Patton, and the effect mesmerizes listeners to focus on Peeping Tom’s profound message throughout the song.
Track 5: Your Neighborhood Spaceman
This song begins with incredible ambient tracks from guest DJs Jel and Odd Nosdam of the Anticon label. In fact, their tracks pay a great homage to the old school DJ samples that often resembled space sounds and futuristic imagery (anyone remember the first DJ appearance on MTV in the 80s?) The instrumentation that follows segues well into Mike Patton’s initial vocal tracks. The lead vocals have a powerful hook singing, “I’m your neighborhood spaceman, ya don’t know who I am, or where I’ve been.” The entire lyric draws vivid images of a benevolent alien that can do anything they want, and does spectacular things “when no one is looking.”
Examples? “When no one is looking I’m swatting thunderclouds, and kissing hallowed ground. When no one is looking I’m crying raindrops, and chewing mountaintops. When no one is looking I eat the desert sand, and drink the Rio Grande.” This is just such a fun, creative, and entertaining song!
The backing instrumentation provided by the guest DJs adds incredible depth throughout the song, especially during the chorus, in which the rhythm of the instrumental tracks balances with the vocals to emphasize Patton’s use of two octaves to create a terrific harmony.
The guest DJs contribute some very interesting ambient sounds throughout this track, especially the tracks that emphasize the otherworldly theme of the lyrics. During the bridge, the instruments create contrast by adding half step inflections, which supports Patton’s rap lyrics and the complexity he brings to the song.
At the end of the song, when the last iteration of the chorus ends, the instrumental tracks sustain the driving beat while Patton raps again. When his vocals fade, the DJs take over, slow down the beat, and then provide one of the most expertly crafted fade outs on the entire album. Maybe the effect means that the neighborhood spaceman has lifted off again and we’re left to wonder where he went.
Track 11: We’re Not Alone – Live
This song pounds listener’s speakers with a dominating downbeat from the drums and bass followed by a steady 4/4 drum beat and Patton’s high falsetto ambient vocals. This song offers some of the most impressive vocal melodies and harmonies on the entire album, and Patton’s command of his instrument creates a chorus listeners will be humming long afterward.
Peeping Tom once again offers intriguing lyrics in this Dub Trio remix, which was the first song Dub Trio recorded with vocals. When Patton sings, “We’re not alone in this psychodrome, and I know that I don’t want to lose yah, livin’ the dream, if ya know what I mean, and I’ll be that boy you used to know”, I interpreted it for myself as the conflicting feelings over what people want to be versus the image society deems appropriate. The vocal harmonies in the verses create a great dynamic with their spacious mix. We loved how Mike Patton explodes in the middle of the light and airy falsetto-driven verse with a huge, “Breathe out, breathe in!” shout.
The bridge has some really interesting screams with a great guitar riff and some ambient guitar tracks that drive with the rest of the song as the bridge ends and segues into the final chorus. The instrumentation supports Patton’s vocals throughout, and Dub Trio offers some cool effects to transition into the choruses. These subtle musical inflections add depth and interest to the song.
Overall, this track represents one of the most accessible on the album and listeners will enjoy this remix long after they listen.
We hit the streets and talked to the Baltimore and Washington DC fan base for other buzz worthy tracks. These include: “Don’t Even Trip” with funk-rock grooving, excellent imagery, and interpersonal commentary, “Caipirinha”, a groovy bossa nova track featuring the vocals of Bebel Gilberto, “Five Seconds”, an ethereal track with one of the most technically difficult vocal rhythms in the chorus, and “Kill the DJ”, with superb instrumental tracks from guest artist Massive Attack and some of Mike Patton’s most impressive vocal expressions.
In a musical landscape where the beauty and audacity of pop music has become more like an antiquated idea, Peeping Tom offers a hefty alternative that entertains and educates. Peeping Tom seeks to add humor to the music industry and demonstrate that true art is pushed forward by visionaries, not by following the crowd. Mike Patton’s own words about Peeping Tom exemplify his vision for the project: “I don’t listen to the radio, but if I did, this is what I’d want it to sound like. This is my version of pop music. In a way, this is an exercise for me: taking all these things I’ve learned over the years and putting them into a pop format.”
Mike Patton remains the king of experimental rock virtuoso singers, and he is soon becoming a legend in the music industry. In the world of pop, he becomes a new prince overnight and stays satisfied with this level of accomplishment. Fans of Patton realize that if he wants something bad enough, he will provide the most imaginative method to achieve results. This drive, vision, and pure musical tenacity permeates the Peeping Tom album, and these aspects will excite listeners to experience new creative ideas. Our hats off to a truly inspired work of art, and here’s to more of the same!