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Fantomas Suspended Animation Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

Fourth album from Mike Patton's kaleidoscopic prog/metal/jazz/noise outfit.

Peter Marsh 2005

Whatever you think about Mike Patton's music, it's hard to deny that he has artistic integrity. Even while with stadium funk rockers Faith No More, he was busy constructing perversejumpcut-metal with Mr Bungle, going on to hang out with John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, David Shea and Ikue Mori. He's even set up his own label and released a Merzbow CD. It hardly needs to be said that none of this is particularly financially rewarding work.

Over three albums Patton has turned his semi-regular allstar band Fantomas (members of The Melvins and Slayer are involved)into another Naked City. Capable of Carl Stalling meets Metallica mashups or the most somnolent dronescapes, their fondness for obscure soundtracks, Sci-Fi references and puckish humour actually make them more of an entertaining proposition than Zorn's outfit. Which is saying something.

Suspended Animation was recorded during the same sessions as last year's Delirium Corda, though you wouldn't think so.We get30 tracks (one for each day in the month of April) in a mere43 minutes. Illustrated with a calendar by cult Japanese artist Yoshimoto Nara, these songs celebrate valuable (if little known)anniversaries like'That Sucks Day' or 'National Karaoke Week'.

Though a recurring vocal loop appears every now again (presumably to give some continuity), the rest of the time Fantomas mount ameticulously planned assault on the rational and expected. Speak and Spell machines, prog metal, cheesy jazz, wobbly radiophonic electronics, full-on thrash,nursery rhymesand soundtrack exoticajostle for pole position in a frenzied but good humoured collage.

Neural overload can result, but in the right frame of mindit's acold shower for the brain. In fact, Fantomas'insertion of the maximum number of events into the minimum amount of time has the same disorientating effect on the listener's temporal awareness as the longest minimalist dronepiece. By the time Bugs Bunnypicks his way through the smoking wreckage to have the last word in your shell-like, the dizzying accretion of events has pulled you through so many emotional states you might not even know what day it is. And that's no bad thing.

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