The new Fantomas DVD, Fantomas Director’s Cut Live A New Year’s Revolution, performs exactly like the band does. There may be set list and a general idea of what’s going to happen, but really you’re at the mercy of the band. When Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle), Buzzo (Melvins), Dale Crover (Melvins) and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle) step on stage, you’re in their world and they will put everything they have into making that musical experience as visceral and exciting as it can be. Director’s Cut, shot at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, is the live culmination of Fantomas’s tribute to great movie soundtracks. From The Godfather to Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer, Fantomas play sonic havoc with the original ideas.
As always Fantomas give a balls-out performance. Patton uses his electronic cavern to drop electronic noise chaos over the proceedings, mixing in his legendary screams and screeches. Playing around Patton’s blips, chirps and wails Buzzo moves from straight heavy riffs to more eclectic guitar noodling. Holding down the fort are Crover and Tyler, who anchor the project while still going off in their own directions. Fantomas can come off like a band that plays whatever comes to them in the moment, a fury of constant improvisation. While that may be true on one level, it isn’t undisciplined. If you really listen and follow what’s happening in Director’s Cut, you’ll find four masters of their craft building audio temples by playing off each other. Only truly talented people can make chaos sound so good and seem so easy.
While Fantomas have no real frontman musically, live you’re drawn to Patton. It’s not just that the other members keep still, though that helps, but more that Patton has a natural charisma that is undeniable. He attacks this show like mischievous child sneaking into his brother’s garage studio to see what he can do. Watching Patton work on this DVD is akin to seeing a mad scientist in a movie serial. He jumps, dives, moves and jerks, all the while staying within his electronic lab and not overshadowing the other players. Patton may come off at times as aloof or disinterested, but Director’s Cut shows him in his element and loving every second of it.
Kicking Director’s Cut up a notch from standard live DVDs is how the band’s attitude towards music is applied to the visuals. The hardest thing about watching live band DVDs is as weirdly simple as not actually being there. It can create a disconnect forcing your brain to push the idea that you’re not at the show; you’re just watching. It gets boring. Director’s Cut decides, almost like a Woody Allen film, to always let you know you’re watching a video by screwing with the visuals as the band screws with the music.
The film will suddenly get grainy and filled with blips and scratches as if it was seventies gore film. The band will be normal but Patton will be animated or vice versa. At times eighties style video tricks like trails or light blurs jump in and then vanish. Director’s Cut becomes a visual exercise in “what can we do here”. Again this is a controlled chaos, the visuals are fun and add the music but never get in the way. Director’s Cut is always about Fantomas and their killer live show. The visuals just help blur that disconnect and make you feel more part of the actual show. Anybody curious about Fantomas, or is already fan, even people who are just into watching experimental things happen in a live setting, would be foolish to pass Director’s Cut.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING 9.5/10
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