Formed in 1998, Fantomas is a supegroup which includes Buzz Osbourne (Melvins), Mike Patton ( Faith No More / Mr. Bungle), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle) and Dave Lombardo (Slayer). Much of the band’s music is dedicated to cinema in all of its forms – from animation to horror movies (although they also wrote entire albums based around sci-fi comics and a concept of surgery without anesthesia).
Patton formed Fantomas shortly after the demise of Faith No More, when he sent demos of songs that he recorded to Osbourne, Dunn and Igor Cavalera (Seputura) with an intention to form a supegroup. Cavalera refused, but recommended Dave Lombardo for a job and thus Fantomas was born.
So far, the band recorded 4 conceptual albums – each with its own theme. Their 1999 self-titled debut was based on science fiction comic books, while 2001 “Director’s Cut” saw the band reinterpreting classic movie themes, such as Nino Rota’s “Godfather”, Ennio Morricone’s “Investigation of A Citizen Above Suspicion” and Angelo Badalamenti’s “Fire Walk With Me” and turning them into something completely different.
All Music Guide commented on the band’s debut – “While it’s an unconventional album, it’s also a completely original one, especially when compared to the blah and predictable alt-rock of the late ’90s. Patton uses his voice as an instrument with often amazing results (singing nonsensical syllables instead of words); few singers have the talent or know-how to pull off such highlights as “Page 1,” “Page 19,” “Page 21,” and “Page 29.” If you’re expecting an album comparable to either Faith No More or Mr. Bungle, you may be confused and disappointed. But if you’re looking for something completely original and cutting edge, Fantomas is highly recommended.”
“The Director’s Cut” was described by AMG as “yet another testament to the unabashed genius of Mike Patton and his co-conspirators, leaving those caught up in the rapture with mouths even more full with thick drool.” Further on, they pointed out that “as a follow-up to their 30-song debut, throughout which vocalist Mike Patton never formed a single actual word, Fantomas offer these 16 new creations, all realigned versions of film soundtracks, ranging from the notorious theme to Rosemary’s Baby to the obscure and peculiar wank of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. While there are many similarities to the dispersed flip-flopping styles of their earlier work, The Director’s Cut breaks new ground with a thick jagged axe. First, most noticeably, are the even more varied vocal stylings; Patton’s sweet croon on “Experiment in Terror” is nothing you’ve heard before from him on a Fantomas recording, along with many of the other croaking, spitting, pissing, screaming noises he excretes.”
In the following years, Fantomas collaborated with Melvins (and recorded an album together as Fantomas Melvins Big Band) and Japanese band Melt-Banana. They also recorded two more bizarre but fascinating full-lengths – 2004 “Delirium Cordia” (one extended song based around the concept of surgery with anesthesia) and 2005 “Suspended Animation”, an album that incorporated cartoon sounds/music.
Fantomas CD (Ipecac, 1998)
An Experiment In Terror CD-Single (Shock, 2001)
The Director’s Cut CD (Ipecac, 2001)
Delirivm Cordia CD / LP / 2XLP (Ipecac, 2003)
Fantomas / Melt-Banana Split CD / 5″ (Unhip, 2005)
Suspended Animation CD (Ipecac, 2005)
Selected Compilation Tracks:
“Page 16” on Mind The Gap Volume 26 (Gonzo Circus Magazine, 1999)
Fantomas Melvins Big Band Discography:
Millennium Monsterwork CD (Ipecac, 2002 / Ipecac + Shock, 2002)
Kentish Town Forum London 1st May 2006 DVD (Ipecac, 2008)