REVIEW: Mike Patton – Adult Themes For Voice (1996)


MIKE PATTON – Adult Themes For Voice (1996 Tzadik)

I’m a huge Faith No More fan; I think they’re easily one of the most brilliant bands of any genre to grace the stage. I collect their stuff, and occasionally Mike Patton’s solo projects as well. Numerous as they are, I tend to pick and choose today. Back in 1996, that wasn’t the case.

One night, out with T-Rev record shopping, we visited Encore Records in downtown Kitchener. On their shelves, for $24.99, was a Mike Patton solo album called Adult Themes for Voice. I asked the lady at the counter, “Is this any good?”  She responded cryptically, “Well, nobody’s ever returned one.”

I did buy it, not only because I’m a completist, but because the text on the obi strip made it sound so fucking cool:

The debut solo album from a performer/composer who has worked with Mr. Bungle, Kronos Quartet, Faith No More, Bob Ostertag and many others.  Experimental sounds never imagined from just a voice and microphone.  An absolute classic.

Shit, how could I possibly say no after reading that?  I’d have to be a dick not to buy the CD.

Then, we went to go visit Tom at his store, and he put the disc on.  In-store.

First came the wide open eyes, then the chuckles, then the “I can’t believe you spent $25 on this”.

Sorry folks, it’s just not for me.  I know there are people out there who can appreciate this. I’m not one of them. It’s true that Mike Patton can do just about anything with his voice, and here he does just about anything with his voice, except singing. Different screams and guttural sounds are spliced together into brief compositions.  Tape editing is just as important as the vocals, in terms of the final compositions.  At times his voice is percussive, at other times whimpering. At all times, assaulting the ear.  It rarely sounds human at all.  It’s interesting, with the recent release of the new Faith No More album Sol Invictus, how Mike Patton has integrated some of these techniques with their sound.

Being a collector, and being a long-time Faith No More fan, I did keep this album in my library. I found a good use for it: the shorter tracks make for awesome transitions on mix CDs!


But 5/5 stars if you can listen to something like this regularly; there’s no denying the creativity involved!



  1. John Zorn’s Tzadik label is an extraordinary beast, specialising in in experimental music and the avant-garde. My mate BB has a huge collection of the CDs and I’ve accumulated a few – always interesting, never the same, sometimes so far out that I need a map and an aspirin. Good on you for keeping it – maybe it’ll grow on you over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oooft. I think I could maybe struggle with a whole 30+ minutes. One for keeping as a curio piece, cause I can’t imagine anyone listens to this regularly!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I probably would have bought this then as well, however, that is $39 in todays money. Ouch. Mike Patton is possibly in my top ten rock singers of all time, and number one for many. This is such an Epic waste(see what I did there?). The song titles sound like it is from an underground horror/snuff film. It could have been used in the Saw series as the breaking point for the captives. 3 songs in they would be begging to be killed. If you listened to the entire album for this review, kudos on you. I clicked Pillow Biter on youtube and could only stand 10 seconds as I hadn’t had my coffee yet and I could already feel the onset of a headache.
    I had heard Mike Patton had done something like Italian Opera during his time away from FNM. Even that would sound awesome compared to this steaming pile of gorilla shit. (I think I would rather listen to a recording of a gorilla having a shit than this)

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  4. Ya Mike, I bought this for a FNM fan back when it was released. Thought I found something new and cool. Turns out it was new and crazy weird. Being polite, he said he liked it.. Perhaps…i like to think he kept it because it was something more strange than frank Zappa. He also was hoping to sing for a band. Maybe this really does find it’s use in being inspiration for vocalists. Who knows?


  5. Well at least you were able to find some use for it, if not its intended use! Also, good for you Mike for the honest reviews, just because it’s a favourite artist doesn’t mean it automatically gets a 5/5 coronation


  6. Off, a 1/5 at Lebrain’s, and for a Patton effort! Ouch! See, for me, I think I’d find this interesting! I like it when artists try new things. It might not be something that got played a lot, but the spirit of experimentation is enticing! It’s like a scream-o Bobby McFerrin! Haha.


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