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Fantômas - Fantômas CD (album) cover




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2 stars Edited 10/03/05!

That's actually a series of noises, screams, laughter and short sequences of rhythmic patterns or extreme tough and noisy metal pressed on a CD. In fact I can't quite follow why something like this is that much appreciated by quite a lot of (well admittedly very young) people. This stuff (music?) must have something attractive, but that is obviously not working for me. The only page I can find enjoyable is No. 12 I've got to say. I'm as well far away from saying that this one is a good piece of avant-garde, what it claims to be I guess. I would rather say it's "weird for the sake of weirdness". Although the sounds are constantly changing after a few seconds there is actually very little versatility being offered overall and everything sounds rather arbitrary and without any structure. I'm standing (or sitting) quite helplessly in front of such a piece of art (similar to modern abstract painting) and asking myself: "What the f'k is the artist trying to tell us with that?" I can't rate it higher than with 2 stars, which means: For fans (or specialists) only! Certainly not suitable for everyone!

Report this review (#34050)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars first of all, music belongs to the performer, to its surroundings, and to whom it listens to it, plus there's no boundaries in music. how music started, by the beating of drums made of animal skin right??? and look what we have accomplish. you need to take something, for example, music used to be 2 parallel lines, but then evry other decade comes a musician and takes those 2 parallel lines and intertwine them, or to be more musically coherent, distorts them. and that's what progressive is. not to many people can survive 20-35- minutes or even a whole hour of hearing just "noise" its within that "noise" that the story within the song appears. we, musicians, painters, writers etc. we are the ones who make small ripples or waves in this boring life, through our music and experience, the need to change what has already been done, to get out of the standard meaning of music this days. one band that has maintain its progressiveness and mix it up with art, the residents. whoever is interested in art & at the same time a fusion with music, i tell them always THE RESIDENTS. keep MUSIC alive, and i don't mean any of that mtv.

FREE-music, DIY music.

Report this review (#34051)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is so unique and beyond any reference or tradition, and at the same time performed with such precision and stellar musicianship, that I cannot give this gem any less rating than masterpiece. I still cannot understand how such an album can exist at all, it's unreal. It's such a daunting task to create this weird concept and then to pull it through.

It's not really prog as in Symphonic Progressive Rock epics, rather the very opposite. There are hardly any tracks longer than 2:30, and no mellotron whatsoever, or any keyboards apart from strangely modified hammond samples. But I think that the whole album is an epic of sorts - it surely has recurring phrases, just not in a musical sense.

It surely is the first album I've ever heard to feature vocals throughout, but no lyrics - just vocal acrobatics of the kind that only Mike Patton dares to base albums upon. Add to that the Slayer drums mayhem by Dave Lombardo, and King Buzzo (Melvins), who manages to mogrify his puristic Les Paul & Amp to a similar extent that Patton does voicewise.

If you want to hear something COMPLETELY different, try this!

Report this review (#34053)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mike Patton formed Fantômas right after the Faith No More break-up together with an excellent team of musicians, including Dave Lombardo from Slayer, Buzz Osbourne from The Melvins and Trevor Dunn who was a member of Mr. Bungle before they disbanded, all doing a faultless performance here.

This project is by far weirder and more psychotic than Mr. Bungle (which is saying a LOT), mixing metal with sound effects and vocal screams and noises from Patton, which Patton also did a lot with Mr. Bungle, only here it's nearly all the time, backed up with the fairly metallic riffs. It's very rapid and paranoid, and at first listen you haven't got a chance guessing what comes next. The arrangements are fantastic, the metal and Patton's shrieks flows well all the time and it's an extremely well made album overall, though it doesn't show any emotion; this is pure madness on plastic.

There are 30 tracks here, and the total playing time is 42 minutes. So most of the songs are pretty short, usually around a minute and a half. This album is a concept album, as you can notice inside the booklet, a sci-fi/crime story. Actually, the music is very fitting if you look on these pictures and listen to the album at the same time. The album has a rather dark mood to it especially in the quieter parts, which usually are containing more weird sound effects and Patton at his most creepy. You might have a few shocks when you are listening to this too, you'll never know what's next here.

Of course, this isn't for everyone, it's incredibly inaccessible overall and many people might consider this as trash, but if you like metal and avant-garde at it's most unusual, AND are open-minded at the same time, this is something for you. If not, get lost! You won't have a chance!! Trust me! And if you didn't like this, don't even bother trying their other albums.

Me personally, love it. 4.5/5

Report this review (#82976)
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fantômas Amenaza al Mundo

An interesting album, but not something I will recomend to people not familiar with Mike patton's work in Faith no More, Mr Bungle or his other diverse output. An "expect the unexpected" framework of sonic origami, with sudden bursts of metal, screams and odd vocal excercises, augmented with short passages of random sounds.

The album consists of 30 musical pieces, each lasting barely 1 minute, with two epics to increase the albums length, but even those short pieces are fragmented. So do not expect songs on this album. The best pages are the two epics (page 4 and page 18).

And now for the million dollar question, is this a good album? I guess it is, with a lot of interesting sounds, certainly if you like frantic strange music with a metal edge, and if you don't care for song structure this might be interesting. For me it's a bit to strange, and I miss some beauty to counterbalance the sonic onslaught. therefor only 3 stars.

Fantômas Threatens the World Aproach with caution, only for weird people.

Report this review (#102151)
Posted Friday, December 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Here's a flawed album that foreshadows all the good music Fantômas will be sure to make later on.

Patton's gibbering is serviceable and as octave-leapingly manic as ever while the band is experienced and precise (and actually quite star-studded, even exciting if you're a Melvins fan like this reviewer!) but the music itself is raw and monotone - plenty of the "songs" include one-note riffs (and not in the good Frippian way) or else are displays of off-kilter structure with no real intelligent content. Of course, the music is only half the story, apparently serving as the mood track for a short comic novel - but approaching the music on its own I find it to be one-dimensional, and if there's a brief, visceral thrill to their music, for me it was only initial and turned out to be surprise over the audacity of the release itself, being a debut. To me, this album's greatest achievement is in stirring up a very creepy atmosphere and should be taken as one large, thrashy noise-scape.

Although I find most of "Amenaza al Mundo"'s content to be fairly uninspired, the two longest tracks are happy exceptions and feel like important blueprints for "Delirium Cordia" - the album I find to be the current jewel in the Fantômas crown. But hey, Mr. Bungle's demos and debut weren't all that good either, and let's not forget what they blossomed into afterwards!

Report this review (#136184)
Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first offering from Mike Patton's merry avant prog metal quartet sets the precedent for their future releases: bizarre concept (30 short tracks corresponding to pages of a noirish comic book), skull crunching metal interspersed with deranged samples and effects, highly expressive wordless vocals and a nod to John Zorn, both a longtime hero to and a sometime collaborator with Mike Patton.

A track by track review would present an interesting challenge and would also probably induce a nervous breakdown in any reviewer who tried it. Thanks to the wonders of gapless playback, this album can be experienced as a continuous piece of music that would fit onto one side of a C90 with a couple of minutes to spare. The results are highly atmospheric, with similarities to Japanese noiseniks like Boredoms and Ruins, elements of death metal a la Napalm Death and the sheer out there weirdness of John Zorn's collaborations with eYe. There are some incredibly effective tracks, but interesting ideas are not always developed and after a while it all starts to sound a bit repetitive; they may not play the same riff twice, but there's a limit to how many times a quiet atmospheric passage followed by a sudden burst of molten metal only to stop after 90 seconds can be effective, and this CD maybe overdoes it. For a flavour of the album try Page 4; at 4.23 it's the second longest track on the album and pretty much contains the whole concept in microcosm. Fantomas probably sounded a lot more impressive in 1999, but time hasn't treated it that all that kindly. It's probably better experienced after hearing some of Fantomas' subsequent albums and some of Patton's collaborations with John Zorn. It's not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, but much better work was to come from both Fantomas and Patton's numerous other projects.

Report this review (#166217)
Posted Wednesday, April 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars After the end of Faith No More and near the end of Mr Bungle, Mike Patton suddenly needed a full time band again. The avant-garde bug was stronger than ever and suddenly the freedom to delve into the even more experimental side of music exploded into reality. Patton created FANTÔMAS, a name of a super villain in French crime novels in the early 20th century that was popular in print and films up into the 60s.

With Trevor Dunn also of Mr Bungle, Patton managed to score Buzz Osborne of the Melvins and Dave Lombardo of Slayer to join his ranks and accompany his need for pure vocal weirdness. And that is what we get with this eponymous debut release. Pure weirdness. But weirdness with lots of recognizable influences that sound really, really good if only for fleeting moments before moving on to the next.

The album cover actually is a poster for the 1965 movie "Fantômas se déchaîne" but ironically is translated into Spanish as "Fantômas Amenaza al Mundo" which in English means "Fantômas Threatens The World." The album is laid out as a comic book would be with 30 pages in 1 book. Chapter 13, however is three seconds of silence since they deem the number to be unlucky, a trend that continues on the next album. Poor number 13, i actually like it.

This is avant-garde metal here and if that is something you fear, i advise you to stay well away from these here bizarre offerings. The gist of the album revolves around Patton's desire to create experimental vocalizations which for the most part are fairly clever and worthy of expression. The band surrounding these idiosyncrasies accompanies these whims beautifully and totally delivers the goods.

This is an album that i didn't really take seriously upon first listen. I like many others was more floored by the followup "Director's Cut" which is a much more accessible take on this movie soundtrack idea, however, recently i have been giving this debut more scrutiny and i have caught the bug. This album is quite remarkable in fact. Yes, it is random in nature and yes, it is quite out of the ordinary but i have been a fan of Mike Patton's various musical entities for a while now and have adapted to his unique styles of expression.

This album is quite eclectic in scope and will appeal to those who have a wide ranging musical palette. It is truly one that needs time to soak in. It took me a decade for it to click although i admit this isn't something i've spun on a regular basis. Very unique, very clever but not an easy nut to crack. However, if you take the time to pierce its tough hardened shell, you may find something that you can appreciate, at least i did.

Report this review (#1348718)
Posted Monday, January 19, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you're at all familiar with famed avant-garde metal act Mr. Bungle or it's mastermind Mike Patton, then you shouldn't be at all unaware as to the contents of Fantomas. Or maybe you should. Who knows at this point.

Fantomas originates from the titular character in a 1964 French film (or the 1913 thing, whatever you please), which was directed by the late Andre Hunebelle who just so happened to be a master glass-maker. Who would have guessed? Anywho, after the group Mr. Bungle sort-of kind-of broke up in 1999 (even though, not really- 2004 about) and avant-garde fetishist Mike Patton wanted another way to oust his urges since Faith No More wasn't really cutting it. Thus, Fantomas was born from a horrifying musical Caesarean section unto the world. Seeing as the last album of Mr. Bungle (which came in the same year, 1999) had combinations of doo-wop and thrash metal, it's safe to say that whatever this 'Fantomas' thing can't exactly be called 'normal'.

A first question I asked upon first inspection of this self-titled record was, "how the hell do I listen to it?" At first glance the first connection you might draw towards is grindcore, a similar genre with very short track times as well. Don't. It's not that.

Allow me to take a moment of clarity for a second. Like any avant-garde album, criticism is hard to levy towards it. I mean, something so erratic can't be easily pinned down. Lyrical quality is of course non-existent, although I do commend Mike Patton for his impeccable variation between "KI-KI-KI-KI-KI-KI-KI" and "hyena screeching after being impaled with four spears" impression, both of which are like audio serenades. It is definitely metal, for sure. Dave Lombardo, drummer of Slayer, is of course delivers a very powerful performance (at least when he's actually on the mic), especially when the music goes full monty on the metal aspect. Other than that differentiation of bass and guitar by Trevor Dunn and Buzz Osborne is practically impossible amidst all the noise. They are rather nice when they get a minute's time to shred and hit a crazy solo.

But the aforementioned noise is the centerpiece of this. For what it is, which is practically nothing, it's well- produced. Mike Patton is a man who is very fond of nothing, such as that one time when he recorded himself for 43 minutes clapping and screaming in a hotel room in '96*. When he gets a chance to do some neat stuff, he does it rather well. Every time the album goes silent the silence feels heavy, which is a very dismal yet cathartic experience you won't find in really any other genre. The ambiance of the piece yields interesting material as well, like film audio-samples (presumably from Fantomas or films of its caliber) and other industrial noises, all which create an example of metal degradation, something I'm sure Mr. Patton was going for. Although there are many motifs in Fantomas, such as a certain falsetto that Patton does occasionally and extremely high pitched screaming, which do tend to lose their effect after a few listens.

Although I can't really pin down specific tracks that I feel most in-tune with, I won't list any others than 'Page 26', which is so eerily...evil in it's intensity. Rarely have I found any other musical pieces that have instilled genuine discomfort in me more than this particular piece. Very interesting.

All in all I apologize for the disjointedness of some of my thoughts. I am someone who likes to write reviews of music while listening to the music itself. In doing so I sometimes channel the musical nature of it into the reviews themselves. What you just read is the product of a Fantomas-laden mind, and I'm sorry. As for the album itself, I suppose it hit its mark as a discomforting or overly-pretentious production, but it doesn't really break through any boundaries past that. Is it even worth proof reading this?


Report this review (#1733163)
Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars The debut album by Fantomas doesn't stake out an enormously distinct identity for the new supergroup, consisting of Patton and Dunn of Mr Bungle fame joined by Slayer's Dave Lombardo and Buzz Osborne of Melvins. Given the makeup of the group, it's not surprising that this starting point feels largely like a continuation of Mr Bungle by other means. (Dunn and Patton were spreading themselves thin at the time too with actual Mr Bungle work - California, the final Bungle release, came out only a couple of months after this.)

The album consists of short sonic snippets, more extreme metal-oriented in style than much of Mr Bungle and with a flair for the dramatic. I think the concept is that it's a soundtrack to this movie that does not exist, but to be honest that doesn't quite come through here (fellow Mr Bungle offshoot Secret Chiefs 3 would, via their Traditionalists alter ego, tackle a similar concept with a bit more flair some years later) - but that doesn't mean it isn't an intriguing listen, just that it's a bit obtuse compared to later Fantomas releases whose concepts are somewhat more upfront.

Report this review (#1774433)
Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2017 | Review Permalink

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