Fantomas - Suspended Animation


It's like nothing I've ever heard before.



Fantomas is the latest musical project from Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle, Tomahawk etc etc etc). He's joined in these sonic adventures by his former Mr Bungle counterpart Trevor Dunn on bass, Slayer tub-thumper Dave Lombardo and guitarist Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins. That's quite a bit of rock heritage, you have to agree, but anybody expecting Suspended Animation, (Fantomas' 4th long player) to be a rock album should just click back on their browser and get out of this review sharpish, because this isn't a rock album. In fact, it's almost indescribable. Although the band is made up of vocals, guitar, bass and drums, there are no songs to be found here. Instead, what Suspended Animation contains is 30 miniature holidays in 43 minutes. Or at least, that's what it says on the back of the album. It's like nothing I've ever heard before.


The band take their name from the main character in a series of French Detective Thrillers. In that series, Fantomas was known as the Lord of Terror, which makes a lot of sense, as this album is terrifying. I don't exactly mean that in a bad way. On the outside, it's simply one of the most stunning productions I've ever seen. On the inside, well it's scary as hell. The artwork, created by Japanese cartoonist Yoshimoto Nara comes in the form of a 30 page calendar. Which is nice. The calendar depicts the month of April 2005, and the 30 songs on the album are written for each day of the month. Patton has described the album as "nursery rhymes, cartoon sound effects and choppy arrangements," but that's not how I would describe it to you. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I can describe it to you, except by following the band's example and taking you on a day by day trip through April 2005. Be warned, things are about to get a little strange. Dear Diary.....


April 1st. Friday. This morning the toys under my bed came alive, my bed turned into an aeroplane and we crashed through the wall and flew off into outer space. That all happened in 34 seconds.


April 2nd. Saturday. Started the day with a headache. Fell down the stairs and banged my knee. Went to the chemists to find some painkillers. Nearly got run over by a drag racer so hid out in a local jazz bar drinking whisky to numb the pain. Unfortunately a bunch of Aliens found me, strapped me to a table and ripped out my teeth with a pair of pliers. I went back to bed with a headache.


April 3rd. Sunday. Woke up in a great mood, went to the park to enjoy a picnic but got caught up in a protest march and ended up throwing Molotov Cocktails at policemen. Which was fun.


April 4th. Monday. Watched Tom and Jerry, then suffered through that detective show with Dick Van Dyke in it. Banged my head off the table for a while to keep myself sane and to stop myself from watching Dr Phil, then watched some depressing film about Polish Gypsies before going to bed. Dick Van Dyke scares me.


April 5th. Tuesday. Slept in till noon. Woke up to find that I'd ran out of cereal. Apart from that, a nice day.


April 6th. Wednesday. Checked my email, then spent the afternoon dodging traffic on the bypass. Which was fun. Watched the sunset from the top of a hill before getting beaten up by a bunch of drunk squaddies. Which wasn't fun.


April 7th. Thursday. Played basketball with friends. Then went tap dancing.


April 8th. Friday. Went to the park again. Lovely day. Saw some kid fall of his bike and break his leg. I couldn't help but laugh.


April 9th. Saturday. Went shopping in town. Very busy. Suddenly felt very alone and out of place so came home and built a set of shelves to pass the time.


April 10th. Sunday. Put books on newly constructed shelves. Played computer games for a few hours. Watched a Steven Seagal film on the telly. Newly contructed shelves collapsed. Bugger.


April 11th. Monday. Evicted all the robots squatting in my shed. They were becoming a nuisance.


April 12th. Tuesday. Babysat for my next door neighbour for a few hours. Watched cartoons for a bit, then a couple of Spaghetti Westerns. Great day.


April 13th. Wednesday. Saw a bunch of squirrels congregating in the back yard. I think they're plotting something against me.


April 14th. Thursday. Mother came round and we watched some old black and white films. Could hear some loud noises from the garage, but when I went to check it out, all I found was a few half eaten acorns on the floor. My pliers have gone missing.


April 15th. Friday. I've decided I don't like fresh coffee. Decide to by some tea bags in the morning.


April 16th. Saturday. The squirrels are back, and they're looking shifty. I can hear them making lots of noise out back, but every time I look out the window they stop what they are doing and pretend like nothing's happening. Sneaky buggers.


April 17th. Sunday. Go to the fridge in the morning and notice that I'm out of peanut butter. Open the back door and I could have sworn that a squirrel laughed at me.


April 18th. Monday. Went to watch a parade down town. Then went home to watch the news. Apparently a lot of people have died lately.


April 19th. Tuesday. Went to the Carnival. Clowns scare me though, so came home early.


April 20th. Wednesday. Got some horror films out of the video store. Vampires are cool. Werewolves too.


April 21st. Thursday. Babysitting again. Little bugger cried all morning. Bought us both ice creams but we were chased down the street by a swarm of angry hornets. Knocked over their Grandfather clock running back into the house. That's gonna cost a bit.


April 22nd. Friday. The bed flew out of the window again. I was anally probed by some strange race of rodents with large eyes then given a lollipop and sent home.


April 23rd. Saturday. The squirrels have boarded up my bedroom window and doors, locking me in, and are having a party in my house.


April 24th. Sunday. Finally broke barricade down. House is trashed. Empty beer cans everywhere, squirrel puke all over the carpet and cds left lying around, not put back in their cases. Damn I hate that.


April 25th. Monday.  Went to watch some Charlie Chaplin films at the local cinema.


April 26th. Tuesday. Set a trap for the squirrel ringleader involving peanut butter, some string and a large knife. Ended up chopping the tail off of next door's cat.


April 27th. Wednesday. Went to the jazz club. Noticed the bass player was a large beaver. He was cool.


April 28th. Thursday. Caught squirrel trying to steal a bag of peanuts. Chased it round the garden but it scampered up the tree to safety. I never have been good at climbing.


April 29th. Friday. Very windy today, Fell off the roof trying to fix my tv aerial. The squirrels laughed at me.


April 30th. Saturday. Bought a chainsaw. Chopped down the tree in the garden. Squirrels have ran away in fear. House seems awful cold and lonely now. Left a jar of peanut butter open on the doorstep and watched cartoons before going to bed.



Like I said, it's like nothing I've ever heard before. It's quite possibly the most annoying, ridiculous album I've ever heard. It's like the Satan worshipping offspring of Gong, but I can't help but think that it is utterly fantastic at the same time. If you've managed to read this far through the review then you should really seek professional help. But if your life is dull and you never know what to do from day to day, spend a bit of time with Suspended Animation and a whole new world will open up for you.


Just be warned, it's not for the faint of heart.


Words : Damian Leslie