200: FANTÔMAS

And finally, to close 9 Days of Patton, we celebrate our 200th (!) post with the enigmatic horror that is FANTÔMAS – my personal favourite Mike Patton project.

It’s hard to even know where to begin describing the music of Fantômas, the supergroup featuring Buzz Osborne from Melvins and Dave Lombardo alongside Trevor Dunn and Patton himself. While each album is an entirely unique creature, the connecting thread in most cases is the unconventional vocal styles and song structures, making for a chaotic and furious whirlwind of metal and noise.

Their self-titled debut is, in concept, a comic book. Each of the 29 tracks (plus a silent track for unlucky number 13) represent pages of the comic, with most songs lasting no more that a couple of minutes. This album is full of cartoonish comic-inspired sound effects and hectic experimental metal passages.

Fantômas shifted gears completely for their follow-up, ‘The Director’s Cut’, where they reimagined several (primarily horror) iconic movie scores. Each score is mutated into a maniacal metal monster and yet, strangely, this remains perhaps their most accessible album. It’s full of catchy melodies, familiar tunes, and macabre reimaginings of some truly iconic music.

From their Fantômas went on to create their most extravagant concept yet – a single 74 minute experimental opus titled ‘Delerivm Córdia’. While the piece is primarily an experimental metal score, throughout its runtime it also delves into ambient and harsh noise as well as drone and easy listening.

Their (thus far) final album, ‘Suspended Animation’, introduced the dual concepts of retro cartoons (with a return to cartoonish sample-heavy tracks like their debut) and obscure holidays. In line with the obscure holidays concept, each track represents a date (and one or more holidays held on that date originating from all over the world) and the entire album makes up a single month (April 2005). This album could be seen in some ways as the spiritual successor to the debut, with most tracks being relatively short and part of a whole picture.

Fantômas are one of the most fascinating metal bands of all time. Their devotion to ever pushing the boundaries of concept albums, and creating vastly different sonic soundscapes for each, is to be applauded. Every Fantômas album is a singular fascinating work of art and an event, leaving fans hopeful that some day the band will release new music – and nobody could even imagine what form it would take.