Fantômas
Suspended Animation
Ipecac
2005
B



being an obsessive fan of an act or artist sometimes means opening yourself to material that you instinctively wouldn't touch with a dead man's dick on the end of a ten foot barge pole. Pre release rumours that Fantômas were mixing up their trademark insane staccato noise bursts with ridiculous cartoon FX made me worry about whether this level of (what I assumed to be) gimmickry was going to spoil this formula. Patton had already spoiled the Maldoror collaboration with Merzbow because of its smattering of context-less silly samples.

The prejudice against these (BOING!) sounds stems from the fact that (KAPOW!) cartoons are still predominantly a genre (ZOINKS!) associated with children and their soundtrack’s sonic palette is normally limited to ‘wacky’ sounds or heavier handed, instant and obvious musical uses. Although cartoon soundtracks work on the same basic principles as movie / TV soundtrack albums it seems likely that because of their more serious context that they are judged as being obviously more affecting.

Suspended Animation attempts to integrate these pieces of music or sounds designed specifically to heighten and alter the unreality of old school Tex Avery animation into the acceptable musical palette without resorting to sonic attention grabbing stunts or being odd for odd’s sake.

The thirty tracks on offer here (one piece for each day of April) are easily identifiable as Patton / Fantômas constructions seeing as they’re cut from the same cloth as the songs on their self-titled debut. It’s very obvious to anyone who gets a listen to Suspended Animation that some of these riffs could've served Fantômas well in the construction of a hyper-heavy commercial metal LP instead of something as particularly uncommercial looking as this. Even half-songs like the chanting punk dirge of “04/03/05 Sunday” and “04/04/05 Monday” are pulled this way and that like fat metal rag dolls until they resemble a fucked up Transformer figures with one arm, eight eyes and no discernible purpose. But, in this confusion and chaos that you can only get through with time and persistence, comes a kind of clarity in mentalness where songs like “04/06/05 Wednesday” sound like perfect encapsulations of the anything goes world of cartoons. Kicking off several times with big hairy riffs, only to brake sharply into piano lulls, it drains of colour before hitting a Jack-in-the-Box crazy lunatic wave and ending on a “Last Post” toy trumpet eulogy. Try asking for that from your favourite meat and potato rock band.

Although this LP is sequenced into tiny fragments of varying speeds of mood, the LP feels like one super-caffeine express fairground ride. The frenetic pace and tightly structured piece feel like dips, bends, and turns to some crazily put together jaunt, and in this it resembles 2004’s Delirium Cordia. The album just can’t settle in one place for too long before everything is thrown inside out with a carefully timed Wacky Races effect and several riffs overtake each other alongside the oily drumming of Dave Lombardo.

While Suspended Animation doesn’t exactly do for cartoon music what The Dark Knight Returns did for comics, it manages to cross the musical worlds of adults and kids to create the soundtrack to Ren & Stimpy's off-camera crack binges. Cartoon sounds don’t always need to be in cartoons. Lesson learned, and another prejudice stamped on.


Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2005-04-08
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