Responsible for one of the most eclectic catalogs of recent memory, Fantômas return with Suspended Animation, a thirty-track set that both celebrates the art of cartoon composition and the many reasons to behold the fourth month of our calendar, April (with one piece for each day of the month). Who knew that April is subtitled “national humor and anxiety month”? Who knew that the dreaded April 15 was actually titled “That Sucks Day” or that April 24 marks the beginning of National Karaoke Week? Leave it to the creative minds behind Fantômas to enlighten us to the many forgotten holidays throughout April.
The brainchild of Mike Patton, Fantômas is an anti-hero from a series of pre-WWI French crime novels, sometimes dubbed the “lord of terror.” Rounding out the ensemble are Buzz Osborne on guitar (Melvins), Trevor Dunn on bass (Mr. Bungle, Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant) and Dave Lombardo on drums (Slayer).
Fantômas’ three previous releases have regaled listeners with a sci-fi homage (Fantômas, 1999), a celebration of the best in film composition (Director’s Cut, 2001) and a one song album (Delirium Cordia, 2004). As Rolling Stone said in their review of Delirium Cordia: “One epic seventy-four minute noise-rock song. What’s not to like?” Now with Suspended Animation, the quartet delves headlong into a new and recently unexplored genre… cartoon music. Recorded in the Spring of 2003, during the same sessions as surgically precise Delirium Cordia, Suspended Animation is the yang to Delirium Cordia’s ying. Bright and loose, Patton describes the new album as “nursery rhymes, cartoon sound effects and choppy arrangements.”
As with all Ipecac releases, the artwork and packaging are just as integral to unfolding the full story as the piece of music, Suspended Animation is no different. Perhaps the most intricate packaging to date, the thirty page booklet/calendar is illustrated by Asian pop cartoonist Yoshimoto Nara. In a recent San Francisco Bay Guardian feature, Nara’s influential style was described as “cartoonlike images and sculptures of kids and puppies sporting world-weary adult expressions, major attitude and salty vocabularies.” The paper went on to say that Nara’s pieces “are among the most cutting edge of Japanese exports in the contemporary art world.”