CDs: Fantomas - Suspended Animation
By Brad Podray
I’ll get right to the point: Suspended
Animation is a merry-go-round ride through a cartoon-filled wonderland
that sits on the outskirts of hell. The entire album centers around
the theme of April(yes, the month of April) and pays tribute to cartoon
music composition in a way that only Fantomas can provide for the listener.
Bombastic, hard, and just plain loony are just a few of the terms that
can be used to describe this album. With a barrage of hard instrumentation
and Mike Patton’s astounding manipulation of his voice, it’s an eccentric
album on all accounts. In fact. the album artwork included when you
purchase the disc is a 30 page calendar done by Japanese pop cartoonist,
For those of you not familiar with
Fantomas, a brief explanation is necessary: To the untrained ear, it sounds
like chaos, yet to the trained music critic, it’s still chaos. Yet,
unlike the type of chaos that causes your cat to explode while your legs
turn into jam for no reason, this is the type of chaos produced by a finely
tuned group of musicians with discipline and control. The band’s
previous works have been equally lauded with praise and despised amongst
the music community for what can only be described as “the-most-unpredictable-song-structures-ever.”
In Suspended Animation, Fantomas
combines gnashing guitars with-light melodic moments and cartoon sound
effects with ambient synthesis with real singing and vocal sound effects
combined with noise combined with strings combined with samples from cartoons
combined with more chaos perhaps combined with opera samples and…well,
you get the point. Highlighting tracks specifically for this review
would be a lesson in futility, as to describe any of these tracks appropriately
would be next to impossible. Though no two tracks are alike whatsoever,
the general theme is one of cutting-edge-rock-craziness. You’ll hear
everything from a telephone busy signal to heavy metal to children(or what
sound like children) singing. All of the track names are a date in
April of ’05 and few clock in at over 2 minutes. Although this particular
reviewer tries very hard to avoid using stupid writing clichés like
“this album takes you on a ride,” such description cannot be avoided when
it comes to Suspended Animation. Each track is its own journey,
whether you’re cruising along and suddenly you’re assaulted randomly by
heavy guitar licks from all sides like in 4/32/05 or riding a “wacky” train
that’s come off its tracks and descended into some animated netherworld
where predictability is a forgotten concept(like in 4/30/05, that album’s
longest track, which clocks in at 3:08).
Sure to please: Mr. Bungle fans, Fantomas
fans, basically any fan of Mike Patton.
Sure to disappoint: People who like predictability
in songs. People who like to understand the words in music.
People who don’t like to hear Mike Patton make crazy noises with his voice.
- Suspended Animation
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