The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Fantômas – The Director’s Cut
“Holy shit! You’re not the amazing Arena! The dashing Dormition!” I hear you cry! Fear not; Our favourite FTA author is taking the week off, so I’ve stepped up to the plate to talk about a band and an album very close to my heart.
Let’s not beat around the bush here; Fantômas are fucking weird – and not surprisingly too. Their frontman is Mike Patton, one of the most talented and genre-flitting vocalists in the history of any genre. Last year he made an Italian pop album. He was also partly responsible for catapulting Faith No More into nineties stardom, all the while creating…well, whatever the fuck Mr. Bungle are. Fitting, then that the band also includes Bungle’s bassist Trevor Dunn, as well as Dave Lombardo and the crazily-barneted King Buzz of The Melvins. Right then.
Fantômas’s discography is about as varied as Patton’s career; there’s the polarising Delìrium Còrdia, a 74+ minute, single track exploration into fuck knows what. There’s some Peruvian throat singing in there, which is all you need to know really. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the 30-track Suspended Animation, which although awesome for the most part, it hard to stomach at times.
But what I want to talk about is their opus: The Director’s Cut.
Even the premise behind this album is pretty genius, despite its apparent simplicity; it takes a bunch of theme tunes – some instantly recognisable, others not so much – and deconstructs them before transforming them into a collection of avante-garde metal covers. It’s a soundtrack with an edge, if you will.
Take opening track “The Godfather“. Anyone who has seen this classic movie will know the main refrain; you’re even reminded of it before we get into the reinterpretation, but it’s a great take on the compositional theme.
These members are obviously all famous for their various bands, but never has the term ‘supergroup’ seemed both so right. They all bring elements of their various areas of expertise to the fold – and incorporate them all. This may seem like a recipe for unmitigated disaster, but it really isn’t. Yes, the album is a clusterfuck of flip-of-a-switch genre-crossing and utter weirdness, but the route taken with each song is so measured that you can’t help but wonder why you’ve ever listened to anything else – it all sounds somewhat middle of the road and samey. You’ve got elements of thrash; jazzy piano sections; strings, all somehow following the tenets laid forth in the source material.
Well, that’s flagrant hyperbole of course, but the fluctuation never sounds wrong, especially as Patton can take it all in his stride. From the deep-throated, creepy rhyming of “Spider Baby” to the “la-la’s” of “Rosemary’s Baby” (a stand-out track for sure), this was obviously a project in which Patton could be as weird as he wanted and get away with it; avoiding any negative ramifications towards his other projects.
‘Alternative’ as Faith No More were, I doubt many of their more casual listeners would get into this, which is a shame. I urge you to listen to all of these, take them in, and follow up with the rest of the album. It’s a landmark achievement for avante-garde music and metal in general.