Fantomas - Amenaza al Mundo

Patton is awesome. Patton is self indulgent. Patton is awesome. Patton is self indulgent. Yep, mixed views. And so it was with a sense of trepidation that I approached this. Was I looking forward to it? Ooooh yeah. And when I saw that shiny little sucker staring at me in Select-a-disc, I knew it was to be mine, in spite of the 13.50 asking price. And so, as we slipped away to the quiet of the lounge to settle down and snuggle up together, the fear sets in. What if I get asked questions that I donít want to get asked? See, Patton is awesome. Best voice in music as far as Iím concerned. Whereas everyone these days shows variation in the Chino or Burton Bell manner of growl followed by whine, Patton truly has the complete range. And Patton can be self indulgent. I know a few people who reckon Bungleís Disco Volante was a masterpiece. Iím not one of them. I also struggle with the likes of Pranzo Ostranzio, and Iíve not been brave enough to dip into his world of Zorn. But I sooooo wanted to hear and like this. With the demise of FNM, itís time for new Patton. But, as much as you may like and respect someone, you canít force yourself to like what they release. If it works, great. If not, then well itís a bit pointless trying to listen time and time again, searching for the key to let you in.

And itís about time I stopped talking about this as if itís simply a Patton solo project. Because thatís wrong and unfair. Itís the selling point for me, but there are three other collaborators here. And collectively they are Fantomas. But they donít give much away. The whole thing is simply listed as "Book 1", and the 30 tracks are each referred to as "pages" contain a certain number of frames, depending on the length of the page. No names, just pages. They range from sub minute to 5 in length. With most falling somewhere around the 2 minute mark.

But what of the music. Self indulgent or awesome. Mmmmmm, mixture. I think. Itís definitely indulgent. I guess to fully appreciate you need to be "tuned in there", which in all honesty Iím not. But there are some great moments here. Problem is, because of the length of all the pages, each individual moment, be it of brilliance or wankdom, is going to be brief (sorry, no pun meant. Honest guv. What do you mean, you didnít read a pun anyway!). If like me you tend to yearn for the more melodic, more familiar structure of music that FNM presented, then itís going to be a bit of a struggle. If you like the abstract nature of DV, then Iíd guess youíre more likely to understand this. But, itís not quite as difficult to grasp as Iíd kinda feared in my darker moments. I wonít even begin to pretend that I understand it. I donít understand music. I donít understand art. If I did, Iíd be able to figure if something was actually good or not. Valid or pretentious. Instead all I can go on is whether I like it. So, I donít understand this, but I kind of like it. Though itís not going to be constantly in my CD player.

If Iím going to try then, the best way I can think of describing this is interludes that switch from a manical full noise spurt, to more individualistic interplay between the musicians. The voice is used to augment that, and become a part of the music rather than sitting on top of the music like I guess most "conventional" vocals tend to. A more obvious example may be Page 4, where the vocal provides the musical atmospherics that might have otherwise been provided by a keyboard on top of one of those "slow, haunty pieces of music". Then, when the "music" picks up pace, the vocal almost provides the shrieking guitar accompaniement. On page 6 Patton provides a machine precision like "ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya" accompanying the the thrash speed snare drumming of Lombardo. Other less obvious examples occur for example on page ? when you canít tell if itís some kind of sample going on, but guess it is likely to be vocal improvisation. Page 12 provides some yelps that wouldíve probably been at home on FNMís KFADFFAL album as well as some of those "angelic" higher things that he can do. Sorry, I really was going to try and be a good boy and not mention them. And if you ever wondered if Lombardo had lost his touch with those drums. Fear ye not.

The very fact that Iíve tried, probably unsuccessfully to describe how I think this all works probably tells you what sort of thing is in store for you. If youíre after easy listening cos of the link, well, as the Teddy Bearís found when they went down to the woods today, youíre in for a big surprise. And you probably best go in looking for this as a seperate piece of work to what you might normally have associated with the various members. Otherwise, like me, youíll end up make references to their past. Which totally misses the point of this, which Iím pretty sure Iím likely to have done anyway.

Available on Ipecac.

Highroad No. 28 - Obscure Madness

This somehow winged itís way to me all the way from Australia. And it appears to be a self-financed and produced affair. To the extent that everything is written and performed by only man Andrew Cantell Which is partially why Iím kinda sad to say it doesnít really do anything for me. As much as anything the vocals let it down, and it just doesnít stand out anywhere. Thereís some strange time signatures in there, but the riffs donít embed at all. And the lyrics feel a bit cliched. The titles are kind of giving an indication of the direction where this is coming from, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Incoherent Insanity and Iím Insane are examples. Shit sorry, I donít mean to just be trying to rip it apart, but itís not doing it for me.

But not only has the guy produced this himself, he also states that heís planning to locate "overseas" before the end of the year. Where that will be I donít know, but then the search will be on for fellow collaborators. At this point it would seem to be a good idea. And you have to admire the dedication in doing such things. Maybe next time I can admire the end product as well.

Contact: Highroad No 28 c/o/ Andrew Cantell, PO Box 502, Parramatta, NSW, Australia, 2124.