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Fantomas: The Director's Cut

Director's Cut: The version of a film in which the editing process is overseen, executed, or approved by the director, usually including footage not included in the standard release.

This is the case with Fantomas' The Director's Cut, a compilation album of sixteen movie themes which Mike Patton and the amazing band behind him re-interpret in their dementedly creative musical vision. With drum god Dave Lombardo behind the skins, and two other friends of Patton's: guitarist Buzz Osbourne from the Melvins and bassist Trevor Dunn from Mr Bungle, the quartet offer their take on some of the most interesting movies we've seen. Since none of these pieces were originally composed by Mike Patton, you have to bear in mind that some of the songs still carry with them the fingerprints of the original composers, which include Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini, and Nuno Rota. However, the versions on this disc differ vastly from the ones on the original movies, hence the appropriate title The Director's Cut.

Some of the material on this 39-minute disc barely qualifies as "songs" per se, ranging from as little as a few seconds to the maximum of three-plus minutes. Out of the sixteen cuts, the average song length is around 2:00 minutes, alternating between insanely chaotic and brutal to almost childish. "The Godfather" is a prime example of the former description, starting in a creepy manner, picking up a deep bass riff, and delving deep into a fast and heavy sonic explosion. Patton screams, shrieks, growls and grunts. Like a soul possessed by demons, his "singing" is paranoid and unlike anything you've heard from him, given you're only familiar with his work with Faith No More and Mr Bungle. In the blink of an eye, a muted riff arises beneath Patton's vocals to complement Lombardo's sickeningly fast double bass drums and leaves the listener completely baffled. Again, without being able to grasp what's going on, the music quietens down and retreats to the original "The Godfather" theme, as if nothing has happened. And this is only the beginning.

"Der Golem" is pure death metal battery, portraying Mike Patton as one of the most prolific vocalists ever. Dave Lombardo gets to show his jazz inspirations with ever-ringing crash cymbals and head-spinning drum rolls. Effect-laden soundscapes push the aggressive piece into a much unexpected realm, featuring Patton's beast-like grunts and tortured screams in a mini-second. As if that's not enough, Lombardo, Osbourne and Dunn quickly team up to create a Meshuggah-like ending, so precise yet so heavy.

It's not all extreme vocals though. On the contrary, "Experiment in Terror" and "Spider Baby" are just two of the songs that put Patton's more humourous side to the fore. Epic and calm, the former has him singing (happily) almost like a woman; whereas the latter is centred entirely around Dunn's majestic bass and comprised of predominantly spoken vocals (some of which are hummed) and eerie keyboards. Patton also displays more of his versatility on "Charade", complete with church organs, African rhythms (Lombardo playing hand drums?), and more woman-like singing. The cinematic quality of "Rosemary's Baby" is most prevalant, considering the crying babies, odd backing harmonies that contrast Patton's child-like and then deeply ominous vocals respectively. On top of that, there are marching guitar riffs filling the song along with bells and even acoustic guitars.

The other songs feature very few vocals, if any at all. "One Step Beyond" is another study in death metal minus the growling. Instead, Patton chooses to scream over the piece, while Lombardo comfortably breaks his kick-drum speed record amidst cascading crescendos. "Night of the Hunter" and "Cape Fear", while following each other on the album, are so different it's not even funny anymore. The first one is just organs and sound effects while "Cape Fear" is the album's daring piece, laced with distant vocals, big drums, and a sweet, addictive guitar theme. The remix of "The Devil Rides Out" has Patton basically crooning as the suspense increases each passing second. Likewise, the drone sounds on "Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer" is absolutely stunning. It begins in silence. All you can hear is a single drum beat every ten seconds. Then, the bass and guitars introduce themselves, creating utter chaos, yet in a strangely beautiful way. Traces of Patton's Mr Bungle stylings come through on "Investigation of A Citizen Above Suspicion", which would be the darkest song had it not been for the deliberately thrown humourous elements. The last twenty seconds of this piece are downright paralyzing.

If you've never heard any Fantomas before, despite its extreme and avant leanings, I'd suggest you start with The Director's Cut, as their first album is even more difficult (with no lyrics, just randomly "sung" made-up words) and their last one is a single-track composition of 74 minutes. Still, both albums are must-haves if you're a fan of experimental, avant garde, and extreme music. This is not for the typical Faith No More fan I'm afraid.

Track Listing

  1. The Godfather
  2. Der Golem
  3. Experiment in Terror
  4. One Step Beyond
  5. Night of the Hunter (remix)
  6. Cape Fear
  7. Rosemary's Baby
  8. The Devil Rides Out (remix)
  9. Spider Baby
  10. The Omen (Ave Satani)
  11. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
  12. Vendetta
  13. Untitled
  14. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
  15. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
  16. Charade

Added: July 18th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Ipecac Records
Hits: 2005
Language: english

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