CD Review

Fantomas – “Suspended Animation”

By Marcus Pan

I play this CD now at my own risk. I am at work, where I will listen to new CDs that come in and occasionally write up some notes and drafts of reviews in between analyzing shizzitz. And right now – to play Fantomas – is asking for trouble. Because when somebody passes by and asks, "What the fuck is that?" the only thing I can say is..."No clue." That is the basis of Fantomas – no clue. As much as I respect Mike Patton's past work with other outfits, I am not down with Fantomas.

The thing is, using different things to make musical happenings is interesting. Twink(1), for example, made music with toys. But making music with toys is different than throwing toys in music, which instead creates a barrage of unrelated spittle. My producer, who happened by the office while I was spinning Fantomas for the first time, likened it to Mr. Bungle. And guess what...I didn't like them much either.

I can't even benefit from the expected finely wrought packaging of Suspended Animation's full release. Illustrated by Japan's Yoshimoto Nara, the 30 page booklet are said to be "just as integral to the unfolding story." I have to go strictly on the music itself, I'm afraid, so if you're really into cartoons and artwork you might want to consider that bit of information.

I'm not familiar with Fantomas previous album, Delirium Cordia, but Suspended Animation has a wide reaching theme behind its creation. Put together to celebrate "humor and anxiety month" (April), and done so in an attempt to fuse cartoon music and nursery rhymes, the end result is instead something akin to a bad acid trip through a carnival store. Of course, Fantomas would probably like this description. More power to 'em.

The tracks have no names. Instead they are short clips, thirty in all, dedicated to each day of the upcoming month of April. Some as short as a few bars, some as long as a merry-go-round through hell. Some of the tracks, like the one for April 4th, attempt to be black metal but get shredded by cartoony samples. Which, again, is probably what they wanted. But I can't really enjoy listening to this much at all. Music needs some kind of cohesion, and there is none here. Even some of the tracks themselves are nothing more than unrelated noises of a few seconds each smooshed together.

On April 10th there's some singing! A short burst of heavy metal just to mess with your head. Just to throw something listenable in for a few moments so he can go, "Sike! Haha!" Which, again, goes lucidly along with his April Fool's type theme. This is followed quickly by the next day's track – with vocal mutterings that are worlds away from being plain annoying. It's a whole new level of it. I thought these vocal Korn abortions couldn't get worse until the songs for the 29th and 30th got here and suddenly I see Jim Carey asking if I want to hear the "most annoying sound in the world" as he leers at my crotch.

On the 16th of the month, halfway done now, we are greeted with a rather well made tribal beat coupled with hopscotch playing children. It's an interesting mix. It lasts less than a minute. Still I can't get past the idea that even the tracks themselves aren't cohesive. Each of them is like a bunch of 5 to 20 second bursts of noise that have nothing to do with before or after. I've heard of "living in the now," but goddamn.

There is one redeeming factor I've found to Suspended Animation, so let me point that out right off. When I play it nobody – and I mean nobody – comes near my desk. Which means I can get tons and tons of shit done. So thanks for that, I'm catching up on my work after only one sitting! So there you go – the silver lining. This isn't a music CD – it's an aural based people repellant.

In summation I can't recommend Fantomas' Suspended Animation to anybody. I mean that in all seriousness. Even someone who's morbid curiosity gets the better of them will play it once (many not make it through all thirty tracks) and that's it. I'm in a quandary of my own – what do I do with this disc now that I'm done writing this? All I can feel is relief, knowing I will never have to play this again. Sometimes parting is sweet sorrow – but times like these, parting is better than a blowjob.

Contact Information:
Ipecac Recordings
Post: 356 Bowery #2, New York, NY, 10012, USA
Phone: (323) 988-1107
(1) Interviewed in Legends #128.

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