Ed – I reviewed this release a few months back, but I always felt it deserved a better appraisal than it got. So, baring that in mind, here is Daddytank’s re-review
Title: Fantomas/Melvins Big Band
Label: Ipecac Records/Southern
Released: Available Now
Mike Patton is a difficult man to keep up with, so when I spotted this live DVD recently, I presumed it was a new release. Turns out it actually appeared in August, so I guess the credit crunch has been successfully keeping me out of record shops. Thank God for Christmas and the opportunity to buy myself a load of shouty stuff.
I have utterly failed to see Mike Patton live, in any of his incarnations, and the most recent mental picture I have of him is from watching Faith No More’s “Video Croissant” a couple of years ago. It has a brilliant video of Patton with long hair and lycra bike shorts on, jumping about like a special needs New Kids On The Block reject. Amusing as this video was, it doesn’t actually reflect where he is at the moment (musically speaking), mainly because it was made in the early 90’s. Mike Patton in the late Noughties (yes, it is the Noughties) is a calmer and more focused creature than the years he spent in Faith No More / Mr. Bungle, but this would not be a fact obvious to the casual viewer. He whistles and gurns his way through the opening Melvins tunes before shredding some of the more popular tunes off Fantomas “Book One”. His ability to recreate some of the guttural sounds and shrieky bird noises is quite astonishing, and the band play this insanely difficult record with unnerving ease. The opening section is banished by “Electric Long Thin Wire” where (sometime Melvins guitarist) David Scott Stone waves an electric long thin wire round a bit. It sounds better than itsounds. From this point they pretty much alternate between tracks from three Fantomas records and Melvins tracks. The set list bears a distinct resemblance to the set they played for “Millenium Monsterworks” (Fantomas-Melvin’s Big Band release on Ipecac from 2002) which is helpful in some respects, because I don’t really know, or particularly appreciate the Melvins. I am prepared to admit that I am an idiot and that the Melvins are awesome, but I have always preferred fast to slow. Call me retarded if you will. Being familiar with most of the Melvins tracks eased some of the pain I felt on realizing I was getting a lot more Melvins for my money than I was Fantomas. Patton’s Fantomas is an exercise in hyperactive noise and a study in how to annoy almost everyone who listens to music and even when a song lasts more than a minute it takes in twenty or thirty directions. This means that even though they play half and half of each bands material, the Fantomas stuff is over before you know it while the Melvins tunes seem to go on and on. Whilst I’m complaining I might add that there is not a sniff of anything off “Delirium Cordia”. Maybe he’ll play it in all it’s single track glory someday. Oh and my final complaint … it says something about animations in the descriptive blurb but there are just a few abstract music video images scattered throughout, which are so scarce that you barely notice them after a while.
That said there are a number of highlights on the DVD. The magnificent, crowd-baiting “Page 23” where Dave Lombardo and Dale Crover duel with their hi-hats for aeons, while the drunker and less patient members of the audience go apoplectic with rage. The improvised section in which Patton “plays” the band, taking it in turns to animate / conduct them, while he gibbers and screams along. And finally “Skin Horse” which is a beautiful song, and easily my favourite Melvins track.
This DVD is a poor substitute for seeing the “Big Band” live but it is still a very exciting facsimile and it has given rise to my only resolution for the New Year. I will see Patton the next time he’s in this country…even if he’s touring Peeping Tom.