Mike Patton and his fellow mad-hatters in Fantomas have been keeping quite busy these days. Following the single, 72-minute exercise in the sonic macabre that was last year’s Delerium Cordia, the supergroup puts down the rusty surgical tools and acidic astringents to quickly return to form (loosely speaking) with Suspended Animation.
The schizophonic speed-metal snippets first conceived on Fantomas’s debut return here, but with more atmosphere, layers and grating textures. Seeing as he’s a more able conductor nowadays, Patton is able to channel his infinite wellspring of ideas and charmingly oddball indulgences more effectively through his troupe of musical miscreants. Animation is an homage to Japan-pop, flipbook cartoons and seemingly The Boredoms and Melt Banana, all narrated by Fantomas in the month of April. Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara beautifully illustrated the spiral-bound calendar and 30-page liner notes, and the 30 tracks here show the band plowing through each day of this month as if it were the last.
In Mike Patton’s mindset, April’s showers are atom bombs, and the moods of each passing day frazzled by chaos, Ritalin addiction or hysteria. The torrents of sound provided by his loyal foils — Buzz Osbourne, Trevor Dunn and Dave Lombardo — splatter the spectrum of hyperkinetic heaviness. Sludge grooves and double-bass thrash combat Patton’s brain-scrambling electronic effects and samples. The latter serves as calm-before-the-storm interludes in between the louder days of the month. Throughout, Patton’s familiar yelp and howl give way, in rare moments, to ominous chants and his patented rock god scowl.
If you’re familiar with Mike Patton’s post-Faith No More work, Animation shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, especially after Cordia lobotomized many with its carnival of horrors. Fantomas’s latest proves their finest since the film score overhaul of Director’s Cut. Patton’s work ethic is almost awe-inspiring, as he’s able to manage a hundred projects at a time. Whether that compromises the material hasn’t been made too apparent. Just like the material in this suspended opus, you’re bound to wake up each day in his crazy world and discover something new.