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Killer 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, Yoshimoto Nara.  

 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.

CD Info 

Fantomas - Suspended Animation
Label: Ipecac Records
Release Date: 04/05/05 

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