Thirty days crash past in a swirl of speed metal and children's toys. Must be a month at Mike Patton's house.

Suspended Animation is a concept record that conjures "30 miniature holidays in 43 minutes." The album was inspired by artist Yoshitomo Nara, who gave Fantômas ringleader Mike Patton 30 artworks that Patton felt compelled to showcase somehow. Eventually he settled on the idea of an album based around a very busy month, and the disc is packaged as a glossy calendar complete with Nara's art, day planner-style tack holes and spiral binding.

Musically, this is an album of surreal contrasts. Spastic jolts of testosterone-fueled sludge metal and ramshackle free jazz meld into the beeps, dings and whistles of children's toys and cartoon sound effects, and Patton ladles on a layer or two of electronic sounds and tape effects and then wraps his versatile larynx around the whole thing. Overall, it sounds almost as if a Guitar Center were dropped from the sky on top of a Toys "R" Us.

Unlike the Fantômas film noir covers album The Directors Cut, or straight-ahead metal Melvins collaboration, Millennium Monsterworks, or last year's 74-minute single-track opus Delirium Cordia, the structure of Suspended Animation harks back to the chaos heard on their (also 30-track) self-titled debut. While Patton is still very much the creative engine for Fantômas, all members of this motley crew of eccentric metal icons (the Melvins' Buzz Osborne, Patton's longtime Mr. Bungle bandmate Trevor Dunn and Slayer's Dave Lombardo) contribute their fair share. What they've made is a colossal engine that's comparable to the greatest creations of both John Zorn and the Boredoms, one that'll take them wherever the hell they want to go.



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