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Fantômas: Delìrium Còrdia

Album: Delìrium Còrdia
Label: Ipecac

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It's good for rock 'n' roll to have a musician like Mike Patton hanging around, even if his work doesn't always make much sense. A true dilettante, and a smart one at that, Patton has bounced from arena metal with Faith No More to Zappa-esque prog with Mr. Bungle, and has dabbled in any number of genre-bending side projects, either under his own name or in collaboration with other adventurous hard rockers and tech-heads. Patton named one of those projects Fantômas after a character in a French pulp-fiction series, and he filled the band's first album with 30 quasi-instrumentals (he vocalized, but didn't sing words) titled "Page One," "Page Two," and so on after the pages in a not-included comic book. Fantômas' second record was a collection of movie-theme covers, only instead of tackling songs, Patton had the group re-create orchestral passages from the scores of cult movies like Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion and Spider Baby. The new Fantômas record, Delìrium Còrdia, consists of one 74-minute track–mostly ambient noise and unnerving scraping sounds, apparently intended to reflect the gory photographs in the CD booklet and the back-cover subtitle "Surgical Sound Specimens From The Museum Of Skin." As a listening experience, Delìrium Còrdia works like one of those old album-side-length Yes songs: It can be played straight through as an evocative musical journey, or carved up into its most listenable pieces. Those who prefer the latter method should skip ahead to around the 16-minute mark for a pretty, placid movement, or to the 35-minute mark for spaghetti-Western atmospherics, or to the 51st minute, where the track settles into a choral drone. The song (?) really gets pounding around minute 54, then stops dead for 20 minutes of quiet crackle before ending with a four-second burst of noise. Aside from that 20-minute stretch, though, Delìrium Còrdia holds up just fine as a suitably unwieldy, adventurous, patched-together series of instrumental bridges with no chorus to reach.