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Fantomas - Suspended Animation CD (album) cover

SUSPENDED ANIMATION

Fantomas

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.60 | 83 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars There are almost as many ways to appreciate music as there are music-lovers. Some people go for a good tale, some a danceable beat, some just love the sound of an overdriven B4 through a Leslie.

Me, I'm a sucker for mystery. Give me lyrics that I can't understand, sounds that I can't quite place, and put everything together in a way that confuses and/or frightens me. I don't have to be able to figure it out...in fact, I don't really want to figure it out, because most of the time the answer is so much more disappointing than the mystery.

That's why I like "Suspended Animation" so much. There are a thousand little bits of intriguing pieces that would probably disappoint if they were forced to become 'actual songs'. Strung together with lightning speed (and undeniable skill at rhythm and composition, despite the seeming randomness), your mind tries to make sense of it all...and your results may vary, but the memories and references that these works elicit from me are well worth the lack of typical musical gratification.

Is it madness? By no means. Crazy people make sloppy music (which has its own special merit, as any Syd Barrett or Daniel Johnston fan will agree). Check out one of Fantomas' live clips if you want to see the very antithesis of sloppy.

This is not the splice-happy plunderphonics of media vigilantes like my beloved Negativland; I doubt Patton & company are trying to make any ideological points about anything specific. Nor is this the by-the-numbers, run-of-the-mill, cut-and-paste rhythmic randomness of your typical drum-and-bass track (whoa, hold on to your hyphens!).This is intentional, methodical, yet highly affecting and evocative.

Of course, it helps if you like the kinds of sounds they use. If you're turned off by cartoon soundtracks and extreme metal, you'll be missing a lot of the fun of the band. Personally, I couldn't be happier that Patton left behind the funk-metal 80's and carnival-ska 90's. It does make me wonder how it will stand the test of time...most of Faith No More and at least half of Mr. Bungle seem less impressive and interesting every time I listen.

Ultimately, this is what I consider to be the best of "modern" music...in every sense of the word. This is the soundtrack to our times, technologically hyper and self-consciously (almost sentimentally) retro, yet with a genuine artistic commitment to the work that belies the potential emptiness of its post-modernist approach (say what? Did I really write that?).

Be scared or laugh at it...react however you want, even if it's utter confusion and contempt. But "Suspended Animation" is definitely worth reacting to; though it seems to throw everything at you, none of it is actually disposable - how many albums, even great ones, can make that same claim?

James Lee | 4/5 |

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