Flashback: Fantômas, The Director’s Cut (2001)

fantomas

I have a confession to make: I’m obsessed with the work of one Mike Patton. From Faith No More to Mr Bungle, solo albums and soundtracks, I’ve followed his career with the intense interest of a sniffer dog. To all who doubt his shapeshifting capabilities, see Exhibit A: Fantômas’ The Director’s Cut.

Fantômas have been described as avant-garde metal cum jazz, a covers band with a twist, but once you listen to The Director’s Cut you realise the only category they fit into is ‘Mike Patton weirdness.’ With this 2001 record, Patton takes recognisable horror and thriller movie songs and contorts them into thrashing bursts of noise. It’s like stepping into a David Lynch film, thus not surprising that Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me features on the playlist.

Patton’s voice is beyond reproach; in one song he careens between screeching violently and imitating a jazzy crooner, oozing an intangible charisma in a song like Experiment In Terror. His vocals are his best instrument, whether run through multiple loops, mics and synthesisers or delivered naturally. He prepares you for an ominous fate with a whistling tune on One Step Beyond before unleashing hell with a siren call falsetto followed by indecipherable shrieking and pounding drums that would give the best of drummers instant carpal tunnel.

It’s totally bizarre to me how Patton can take a song that is ingrained in the social consciousness as sounding one way, and completely invert its very foundation and subsequently the sensations it evokes in the listener. Cape Fear was always a spine-tingler, but with Fantômas it becomes a metal cacophony of screeches and screams, climaxing in terrifying staccato yelps. Not a moment later, Patton is smooth as a cruise ship singer, all gravel intonations and light twitches in tone for Rosemary’s Baby. And when the sound of babies crying fills the air, you know something bad is about to go down.

Overacting comedy Patton is still an aural treat on Spider Baby, as is vocoder Patton on the surprisingly jazztastic Vendetta. Everytime you’re lured into his comforting dulcet tones, a seismic sonic tremor leaves you reeling, yet drawn even further into the crazed web of synthesisers, intense guitar and percussion.

Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion is such a perfect example of the rise and flow eminent in the record; it starts off with a simple keyboard riff, before Patton comes crashing in with layered vocals and a steady drum beat that seems to teeter threateningly on the edge of chaos – and of course, it does.

The Director’s Cut could not have been created by anyone but the enigmatic, all consuming talent of Mike Patton. Oh, and you haven’t heard The Omen til it’s been played at four times its speed with thrash metal drumming and Patton’s animalistic cries.

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