Fantômas is that answer and with their self-titled debut record released in 1999, gives insight into the strange, occult, and perhaps otherworldly science fiction of tomorrow’s sounds.
Looking at this album nearly 23 years later, there is much of an influence that came from the mostly unknown record. Elements of noise and experimental sequencing tie the audience to the chair, torturing them with impossible to predict rhythms and lacerations around the eardrum.
Fantômas is a 30 track record, but each piece lasts around an average of 45 seconds to a single minute. The 42 minute LP holds Mike Patton as the lead vocalist and head behind production while Dave Lombardo occupies the percussion. Rhythm is a vital section to have with some natural-born killers and Trevor Dunn on bass and King Buzzo Osborne covers the guitar.
It is a sludge match made in heaven for a lineup and together Fantômas becomes frightening and intimidating with “Page 1.” They pull back a curtain of low-tuned bass strings that growl against Patton’s grumbling. The behemoth is rattling through cymbals and is almost apparitional in stance. Between the specter’s hand that reaches to the audience disguised by the distinguished production, Fantômas suddenly transitions continuously.
With “Page 2” the work becomes more metallic and warping with shouts and elements of samples tuned much higher than the rest of the mix. Fantômas becomes violent but easy to conquer with. The way that Lombardo can groove alongside Dunn becomes the bloodline to the record. Osbourne adds flairs here and there but the main focus is simply all over the place.
With around 30 listens to the record in the past two weeks, still I find myself being caught off guard and surprised. These rampaging changes are Fantômas’ best and most weldable weapon for them. With each “Page” that turns, Fantômas as a record is frequently changing shape.
This chameleon of sorts is trapped by this pressure to confuse the audience and always have them searching for a beat to follow. The experimental factors take some getting used to, but Fantômas becomes a favorite in the way that the weird can be a selling point.
Shrills, operatic takes, and blood-curdling screams are all present here from Patton and per usual, his performance is perfectly fitting for the instrumentation. Not one note wasted, not one ear spared, and certainly not a single track memorable by name.