Pranzo Oltranzista is a studio album by Mike Patton which was released on the 22nd of April, 1997. Its full title is Pranzo Oltranzista: Musica da Ravola per Cinque (Banquet Piece for Five Players). It is 31 minutes and 18 seconds in duration and was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik music label. His second solo work after Adult Themes for Voice (1996), Mike Patton’s Pranzo Oltranzista differs from that previous offering in that it is relatively free of vocals and instead focuses on sound effects and abstract soundscapes.
Here Patton shows his mettle as a composer rather than a vocal improviser. The inclusion of instruments beyond Patton’s voice alone also distinguishes it from that effort. In devising the album’s concept, Patton was inspired by Italian Futurist poet and editor Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and his Futurist Cookbook published in 1932. It was both more and less than a real cookbook—an artistic joke provoking readers to think about modernity and experimentation. Patton’s music on this album reflects the self-same spirit. Each track is themed around a recipe from that book. While Patton creates noises with his mouth that are usually food-related in nature, the four musicians joining him create restaurant music themed around Marinetti’s bizarre recipes and culinary concepts.
Pranzo Oltranzista is hard to neatly categorise in a genre; it has elements of jazz as well as electronic music and noise. Broadly it should be considered experimental and avant-garde.
Elettricità Atmosferiche Candite (Candied Atmospheric Electricities)
This piece starts with very eerie squeaks on violin and a reverberating guitar as it enters into an unnerving electronic soundscape, complete with Patton’s characteristic vocal babbling.
Carne Cruda Squarciata dal Suono di Sassofono (Raw Meat Torn by Saxophone Blasts)
Patton creates the ambient sounds of a restaurant, including deranged chewing noises. A sudden blast of noise interrupts the scene before Zorn’s alto sax makes its cautious entry. A chaos of crashing percussion and shouting is followed by sterling sax improv.
“Vivanda in Scodella” (Magic in a Bowl)
A weird treble drone is joined by the clang of a gong on this softer track. Other gong-like instruments are hit, producing a soundscape like a haunted gamelan. Pitch-shifting electronics and trickling water add to this ‘magic in a bowl’ before very high-register tones are added to Mike Patton’s crunching and munching on some unknown futurist food.
“Guerra in Letto” (War in Bed)
Patton returns to chewing sounds here. Microphones beware. Odd popping sounds are joined by disjointed and bizarre strings as guitar and double bass interact with the noise of glasses or plates being smashed.
“Contorno Tattile (per Russolo)” (Tactile Contorno (for Russolo))
This track begins with the sound of chopping followed by washing. Cellos interact with this culinary soundscape. The track is dedicated to Luigi Russolo (1885–1947), another Italian Futurist who built experimental musical instruments and is considered a pioneer of noise music, his first forays into the new field being made as early as 1913.
“I Rumori Nutrienti” (Apertif in Sound)
An electronic drone is followed by rattling sounds and Zorn’s saxophone which sounds romantic and almost lyrical while at the same time suspect. Zorn’s solo is the jazziest this album gets, almost serenading the listener and conjuring up melancholy street-lit scenes.
“Garofani allo Spiedo” (Geraniums on a Spit)
This track delivers what its title indicates, with the sound of something being cooked on a spit interacting with mysterious strings.
Marinetti’s notion of food as fast as a hydroplane provides the inspiration for this track which features William Winant’s wonderfully swinging drums playing. John Zorn enters and provides an epic free-form jazz solo on his familiar alto sax. The sound of cooking utensils add further interest to the percussive soundscape while Patton adds in curious restaurant conversation. The sound effects create the sense of a strange fight taking place in a restaurant kitchen, complete with glasses being smashed, and the tension built up over this track ends with the noise of a plane taking off and a crackling fire.
“Scoppioingola” (Throat Explosion)
Sudden, percussive noises unnerve the listener in this track before Patton delivers a series of extremely bizarre sounds that no doubt are meant to sound like a ‘throat explosion’.
“Latte alla Luce Verde” (Milk in a Green Light)
This more rhythmic track creates a disturbing soundscape that draws the album to an anticlimactic close.
“Bombe a Mano” (Hand Grenades)
The strange sounds here are certainly not unlike artillery or something from a war. Thrashing, bashing around, accompanied with Patton’s recognisable fevered breathing. Tick-tock sounds take this final, martial track to a finish.
Mike Patton composed Pranzo Oltranzista. He is the vocalist and also provided sound effects as well as producing the album. Jason Baker was an engineer. Erik Friedlander joined as a guest on cello. Marc Ribot was a guest artist on guitar. William Winant provided percussion. John Zorn also appeared as a guest musician, playing alto sax.
At All Music Greg Prato describes Pranzo Oltranzista as ‘another challenging release from Patton’ and gives the album a tepid three stars.
A user of Sputnik music likewise gives the album three stars and notes that the work is very re-listenable, with interesting pockets of creativity that can be heard in a new light each time. They comment that there are ‘no stand-out tracks’ and insists that the album is best listened to as a whole.