Tomahawk - Anonymous
When one considers the enormity of Mike Patton's involvement in music, from past and present bands, guest-spots and collaborations, his track-record for success becomes even more impressive. Almost everything he touches turns to gold, and it's not simply his skill as a vocalist and writer/arranger; he has a strong knack for associating himself with talented musicians. Tomahawk is one such outfit, a project that focuses as much on guitarist Duane Denison's unique style as it does Patton's vocal insanity. On Anonymous, Duane is responsible for both the theme and almost all of the music; he studied extensively the music of various Native American tribes during his time working with Hank Williams III, and they represent the collection of songs found here.
It sounds like an unusual theme, but it works so very well. Patton's touch on these history-heavy songs adds an increased sense of what it must have been like to sit around a fire, tripping on God knows what, dancing and praising ancient and mysterious gods in a ceremonial frenzy. It captures the spirit of that time in our country, of those great peoples who once thrived where we now do the same. Anonymous is all this and also manages to be a pretty kickass and enjoyable slab of avant-garde rock. "War Song", "Ghost Dance" and "Totem" are the album's most edgy and forceful tracks, all of which will put images of tribal warfare and massive hunts on horseback over open plains into your brain-space. As I elaborated towards previously, the atmosphere Anonymous creates is as engaging and spiritual as anything either Tomahawk or Mike Patton has done. Some songs run off into a more trippy, psychedelic way. The duo "Mescal Rite 1 & 2" are some examples, both engaging in a sort of 'swirl-and-stomp' that makes for an aural representation of tripping on hallucinogens.
At 13 tracks, the album does feel just a touch too long considering the narrowed scope and one, definitive style. But you won't start thinking that until track 10 or so. Apart from being Tomahawk's best effort so far, Anonymous is an album filled to the brim with a dark and passionate atmosphere, something easy to get caught up in and, if you're like me, something to help you better appreciate the power of song. At it's heart, Anonymous is exactly that; a dedication to our country's original musicians and how we can still appreciate (and improve upon, perhaps) what the Natives spent so much time and energy to perfect. Music was always an essential part of most tribes, as it helped tell history, memorable tales of battle and bravery, and within it was often contained messages of spirituality and religion. Tomahawk captures all of that, modernizes it and the end result is one of this year's most ambitious projects, one that hits as close to the mark as can be hoped for.
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