Release DetailsLABEL Ipecac Recordings
RELEASED ON 4/5/2005
posted on 3/2005 By:
It’s psychosis in a wood chipper, and mania in a blender. It’s metal in a centrifuge, delivered by what must be some deranged clown with Tourettes and Colitis. It’s Suspended Animation, the latest installment from Fantômas, and true to form, it’s fucked-upper than a soup sandwich. One would expect, or want, nothing less from this collection of avantgarde masters, made up of vocal contortionist Mike Patton (Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle, Lovage, etc., fucking etc.), riff giant Buzz Osborne (Melvins), and the menacing rhythm section of Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Grip Inc.), and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant, John Zorn’s Electric Masada). The band, um…reinterpreted (to put it mildly) songs from films for The Director’s Cut, easily the band’s most listenable album, and offered a nightmarish soundtrack of a surgery gone wrong on the sparse, 74 minute song Delirium Cordia, but Suspended Animation is most similar to the band’s 1999 self titled debut (also commonly referred to as Amenaza al Mundo). That album contained 30 tracks of music that was conceptualized as companion music to a comic book, complete with song titles consisting of sequential page numbers. Suspended Animation takes a similar tack, but focuses on the medium of cartoons. What wonderfully exquisite fodder for Fantômas, and specifically for Patton, who does enough voices to make Mel Blanc sound like Stephen Wright.
Since we’re on the subject of music and other artistic mediums, one can draw parallels between the music of Fantômas and avantgarde painter Jackson Pollock, who earned the nickname Jack the Dripper after he began placing canvasses on the floor and dropping paint from above with a wooden stick, among other things. This “drip and splash” method was entirely unconventional and was both heralded as brilliant and criticized as meaningless chaos that mocked traditional art. Pollock was also associated with the emergence of an “all over” painting style, in which he avoided points of emphasis, thereby eschewing the typical concept of composition and relation between parts. That pretty well describes Fantômas, whose music may initially seem like random chaos for chaos’ sake, and is without structure, at least in the traditional sense. The songs bludgeon with lurching blasts and jagged twists, but also seethe with slower halcyon drenched melody and manic cartoonish moments. It doesn’t really matter, it all perfectly compliments Patton’s vocal histrionics and bizarre sound effect samples. He uses all the tools in his astonishing arsenal of screams, howls, whispers, yelps, and every once in awhile, he even sings. There is simply no consistency between and within songs, and without looking at the display of your cd player, it is impossible to discern when one song slides into the next. The 30 tracks are all named after a day of the month of April, further evidence that tracks on a Fantômas album are only good for picking it up in the middle, as one is unlikely to pick out favorite songs. The album is meant to be absorbed all at once or in chunks. You simply never know what you will hear next—from entirely organic full band metal riffing, to a jazzy break, to bizarre samples or unidentifiable noises. One song includes a cacophonic symphony of noises of children’s toys.
It’s like Daffy Duck took the brown acid, and Foghorn Leghorn is moshing with Yosemite Sam. It’s a metal carnival of the bizarre and absurd that must be heard rather than described. My only complaint with Suspended Animation is that since it amounts to complete auditory sensory overload, it is sometimes difficult to get through the entire album in one sitting without becoming a wide eyed, twitching ball of exposed nerves. But to quote the Bugs Bunny sample at the end of the album, “Well what did you expect in an opera, a happy ending”?
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