Romances by Kaada/Pattonacts as the soundtrack to a dreamy love and longing. The beautiful landscapes that are created by John Erik Kaada are augmented by the smooth and eerie vocal work, as well as the unpredictable electronic manipulation of Mike Patton. This album can be characterized as the twilight zone where both spooky and seductive meet. Romances was released on the 30 November 2004 on Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings.
Both Kaada and Patton’s work reveal a love of cinematic music. There is also an affection for the spooky and the biggest romance going on in this album is how the spooky and the evocative is arranged. However, this album is also melodic and playful at the same time. And Patton’s fondness for the over the top theatricality tends to dominate the album but in a good way. This album is as experimental as it gets and all of the tracks fit and flow together.
There is a complexity and a beauty to each song on the album and after listening to each track it gives you a completely original experience.
Neither Kaada nor Patton remember just exactly how Romances came to be. It was originally thought to be an album based on romanticism but performed with other sounds. More of a large moving composition consisting of nine pieces, but it just expanded into a collaboration when more percussion and programming were added.
For this album, the first vocal takes were completed in hotel rooms during the Ipecac Geektour of 2003. After that, Patton and Kaada sent CDs back and forth to each other every month. It was a long process to get the album completed. It wasn’t until the January of 2004 that Kaada tried to mix the music in a technical way. Once he completed that first technical mixing, they went on for another eight months working on it. Both Kaada and Patton had very strong opinions on what Romances should sound like, which did not make the process go any faster. What came to be was a soundscape of melodies that are constantly progressing away from any movement that may have started.
Invocation features Gjertrud Pedersen on bass clarinet. Creepily whimsical melody and choral voices, it recalls a lot of Danny Elfman’s work
Pitie Pour Mes Larmes
Petie Pour Mes Larmes features Erland Dahlen on drums and Geir Geirsundstol on steel guitar. This track is layered in rich harmonies that emphasize the album’s mingling of sensual and eerie. This is one of two songs on the album to feature lyrics
Aubade features Erland Dahlen on drums. The vocals span ghostly choral passages. There are also featured Tasmanian devil-like grunts and growls that sound like an unusually tuneful bloating goat.
In a different incarnation, this track could be a jaunty French folk melody.
This track has a very ominous atmosphere to it, with the intro that contains a keyboard and whistling intro.
Viens, Les Gazons Sont Verts
Mixes a type of spaghetti Western theme with exotica.
This track has more to do with grand guignol than it does about lingering glances and meaningful sigh’s, only the second track on the album to have lyrics.
Pensee Des Morts
This track is a playful mutation of rattling percussion and an oddly buoyant melody.
Overall a very slow and droning feel to the track, but it compliments the rest of the album.
Mike Patton and John Kaada are both credited with being composer, main personnel, mixing, primary artist, various instruments. Erland Dahler and Borge Fjordheim provided drums. Gjertrud Pedersen provided bass clarinet. Oyvind Storesund provided bass guitar, and Geir Sundstol provided steel guitar. Jjorn Englemann provided mastering services.
Martin Kvamme was the artist for the album cover. Kvamme is a graphic artist and illustrator from Oslo, Norway.
“The album is immensely entertaining, not just for Patton and Kaada fans, but for anyone looking for a soundtrack to their own romantic macabre thoughts.” – All Music, 2005
“Romances is for the most part, a mellow, melodic, restrained affair for both participants, featuring laidback, near folk, almost soundtrack-derived songs complemented by Patton’s incredible ability to sing, croon or hit any style or mood presented to him. Occasionally it breaks into its ominous moments (naturally) derailing the easy listening train, but it never goes too far.” – exclaim!, 2005
“This is a very haunting listen. I suggest if you listen for the first time to go in a dark room alone at night and listen. Just sit and listen. You will be surprised how such simple music can be so haunting.” – Sputnik, 2006
“It’s not perfect, per se, but it’s a completely original experience. Often minimalistic, sometimes catchy, other times downright creepy, but what matters is that all of these moods work. Kaada is a master at this, and Mike Patton’s genius adds an extra layer to an already beautiful work.” –Rate Your Music, 2011
“In one breath, we hear Patton’s increasingly inventive (and increasingly wordless) vocal performances, a repeating piano measure, or the ominous presence of a swelling church organ. In the next, it’s the tolling of a church bell, the ghost-wail of an uncredited musical saw, a muted sound-byte or tape lurch, the cut-and-pasted succession of found percussion, or a piece of industrial noise framed on the wall like a musical foundation. The record’s nine tracks, each labeled with the names of 19th-century French songs, might sound like cohesive songs with all the sweep and scope of mapped verses and choruses but don’t be fooled. Romances is as much a patchwork of pre-existing material as Dr. Frankenstein’s monster and just as difficult as that mad creation to shake from your mind’s eye.” – DOA, 2005