“Do you remember a time when music had the power to set your soul free?” asks the opening line of this album’s press release. With such a bold opening statement, I found myself thinking of those life-changing albums – whether they be ‘Revolver’ by The Beatles, ‘Ritual De Lo Habitual’ by Jane’s Addiction or the many other groundbreaking, genre-bending, brilliantly inventive pieces of plastic which have spent time on our collective stereos. Fantazzmo is the brainchild of Sergio Bedolla (one time member of Anima) and this debut release ‘Enter The Fantazz’ pulls together nearly every musical influence he can muster. Rather than sounding like an eclectic mix of songs, it ends up being a journey into self-congratulatory pointlessness. Judging by the tone of the press release, that shouldn’t have been a great surprise.
This is one of those records you could (and probably) give up as a bad job after the awful first track, but a morbid curiosity ensures you might feel a duty to find out how else your “soul was about to be set free”… That rather hideous opening number contains various explicit remarks about Sergio Bedolla’s bedroom antics. It’s so vulgar and devoid of humour, listeners need to be warned that it may cause vomiting. Musically, it’s a dreadful waste of a crunchy guitar riff. …And to make matters worse, it’s called ‘Superman’. If there were a prize for biggest ego, this guy would be in the running. Unbelievably, this blatantly offensive three-minuter was chosen for release as a single!
‘I Know You’re Mine’ – a rock number which also brings elements of power pop and funk – sounds much better (but then very little could have been worse). There’s no real hook here to speak of, but – glossing over a rather ugly guitar solo – it works quite well. ‘Souls On Ice’ is a mixed bag. This slice of early 90s funk metal takes its cue from the hugely underrated Mind Funk (at least musically, but compared to Mind Funk’s debut, this is a little ham-fisted). Here you’ll find a hard rock riff leaning towards an old-school groove topped off with wah-wah driven solos. Lyrically, though, it’s another very poor show, being another outlet for Bedolla’s unpleasant, misogynistic, violently aggressive sexual hang ups. The core of ‘She Really Likes It’ (subtle, huh?) steals rather blatantly from The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’, as a fuzzy guitar churns out notes against an almost singular pounding drum. The bridge sections are a bit fuller sounding with a seventies rock vibe. Another ugly guitar solo borders on self-indulgence. Factor in a half-arsed vocal where Bedello delivers lines about how great he is in bed and how his girlfriend likes it rough, and the experience goes from unoriginal to rather nasty. However, that’s not as bad as ‘We Are Waiting For You’ which taps into spooky psychedelia, utilising horribly out of tune vocals and painful levels of musical meandering. I’ve no idea what he was thinking…
‘Drown Your Lies’ combines summer grooves and pop reggae in a style which sounds a lot like 311. Bedolla even manages to turn in a vocal which doesn’t decent into shouting or go off-key – and without any self-aggrandizing lyrics, this is the album’s best number hands down. ‘Always Something’ offers something equally subtle by Fantazzmo’s standards. The vocals are multi-tracked and soft. Musically there’s a hint of latter day Red Hot Chili Peppers (ie: bland and radio friendly), a couple of reggae breaks and a tone which also reminds me of 311 playing a Santana tune. This track features some great ideas, but has no real coherency. Being another of the better numbers, though, I’m thinking Bedolla ought to have explored his 311 influences further. ‘Fear In Me’ at first sounds like it’s also going a for a summery, mellow vibe in places, but any hope of it being a chilled-out classic is spoilt by Bedolla’s out of tune vocal which drifts into pointless slurring. Also, the rockier sections of the song are full of lyrics about how hard he is, how he carries a knife and how we ought to fear him. Oh, Christ – let’s hope he’s joking, otherwise this is rather sad. Actually, scratch that – even if he is joking, it’s still very, very unfortunate. The Fantazzmo experience finishes with a short acoustic instrumental piece which contains some odd musical phrases and isn’t that tuneful. It sounds like it ought to be on a Buckethead record, but frankly, saying that just gives it far too much credit.
Exactly whom does Bedolla thinks this album is going to appeal to, other than himself? He’s clearly convinced of its brilliance, but generally, listening to it leaves both a feeling of confusion and disgust listening to it. It’d be great to think this was designed as a comedy record or somehow tongue-in-cheek, but it’s unclear whether it was. There are a couple of okay moments, but on the whole, having music set your soul free rarely felt so torturous.