I found this album amidst a stack of CDs in the basement of a college radio station in Central Illinois. The station overlords had a practice of affixing post-it notes to the CD covers, documenting their curt peremptory dictates on whether the contents were suitable for wider (but yet still ridiculously limited) consumption. The post-it note on Failure’s “Fantastic Planet” read simply, “Boom!!! Here it is!!!” (this was 1997 and people still talked like that in 1997). I think that got the point across rather well – certainly much better than that piece of hideous hyperanalysis at allmusic dot com. “Fantastic Planet” sits proudly alongside the likes of Radiohead’s “O.K. Computer” as one of the select few truly innovative, truly coherent, truly accomplished albums of the ’90s. It is the kind of masterpiece that comes along every once in so very long. You remain ignorant of it at your own peril.
No Description AvailableNo Track Information AvailableMedia Type: CDArtist: FAILURETitle: FANTASTIC PLANETStreet Release Date: 08/13/1996<Domestic or Import: DomesticGenre: ROCK/POP
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Failure came to my attention (as with many of their fans) when “Stuck on You” started getting limited radio play and a memorable video on MTV (it was filmed like the opening sequence of a James Bond movie). A friend of mine tuned into them, too, and we each picked up concert tickets to see them live.I have never regretted seeing a band perform live less. Of all the concerts I’ve seen, that’s the one I’d want to go back to.This was, unfortunately, the last of Failure’s three albums (four if you count the near-apocryphal “Replicants” project with Tool and Zaum, or the early singles they released–try for their B-Sides online if you’re a fan: Dipped in Anger, Golden, Count My Eyes, You’re Too Much, and their ultra-rare Untitled track), and it was fantastic. Every track is above average, with some (Sergeant Politeness, Saturday Saviour, Pitiful, Another Space Song… Hell, most of them) standing out as long-term favorites, “Stuck On You” included. After fine-tuning their sound on the previous “Magnified” release, the group kept up with that same alt-space-rock sound and Ken’s sometimes atonal singing, and put out what is likely their best effort.Unfortunately, Failure didn’t last long afterward–the success of their “Enjoy the Silence” cover on the Depeche Mode “For the Masses” tribute album came after the break-up of the band. Each member went on to solo projects, with Ken Andrews (vocals/guitar/songwriter) being the most notable–he released two albums solo under the name On. “Shifting Skin” is a fantastic, mellow electronic work, while “Make Believe” surpasses it (though it is not a commercial release–finding it takes some doing). He has since gone on to form “Year of the Rabbit,” whose album is forthcoming in June (though their web site, yearoftherabbit.net, has an EP). The group sounds remarkably similar to Failure, so any true fan should give them a listen.
I can not believe that it took me almost 10 years to discover this great album after it was originally released. I remember seeing the poster for this album up in the window of a record store I used to go to all the time to buy cd’s at but I never once thought about buying this album. Well, I am like a lot of people it seems because this album has never really gotten it’s due. This is one of the most complete albums from start to finish that you will find. It starts off with a bang with Saturday Saviour and then ends with the unbelievable Daylight. This is a must have for anyone who really loves great rock music and great music in general.
I am surprised by how many people do not know what this album is about. It is, as stated by the band themselves, an album about heroin abuse, specifically its pitfalls. Saturday Savior is not a song about sexual politics. It is a song that Ken Andrews sings in character. The character that he takes on is heroin personified. As the drug “speaks” to the listener, the premise for the whole album is set up. The user is hopelessly in love with the drug and wants something from it that it can never give. The drug is cold and will never give itself to the user. It will only tease, as it has no heart to give. The user is being used and tossed aside like so much trash. The rest of the album chronicles a day in the life of the user and the drug’s parasitic “relationship” with him. The album begins and ends with clock-like sounds, bookending the beginning and end of the user’s day and offering an eerie reminder of the user’s lost and perhaps, very limited, time. “Stuck on You,” while not so subtle in its title, subtly compares heroin to a tune that slowly but surely creeps up on you and becomes ingrained in your consciousness. “The Nurse Who Loved Me” is the user deluding himself into thinking that the girl with “pharmacy keys” (heroin) actually cares for him. He insists that the girl “acts just like a nurse with all the other guys,” but the song begins and ends with the user lying by himself face-down on the ground. This is the moment on the album where we realize just how pathetic the drug has made the user and to what extent he has been degraded and demoralized by his addiction. The pounding horror of “Daylight” ends the album. The user tries to assure himself that “daylight won’t find us here,” but there is, of course, no escape from reality, and this is confirmed by the aforementioned clock sounds. This is an album that is practically overflowing with symbolism both in its lyrics and in its music. Failure sound like no other band, but it would not be inaccurate to characterize them as a combination of Nirvana and My Bloody Valentine. They can create massive soundscapes and love their feedback, but they also understand their way around a pop song, albeit really heavy pop songs. This is a landmark in space rock. Enjoy.
I agree with most of the posts. Fantastic Planet is criminally underrated. A few things that haven’t been mentioned: the approach the band takes toward melody is incredibly innovative. The melodies are essentially pentatonic but devoid of recognizable patterns–no cliches–and yet somehow they still manage to be catchy. No one has said much about the lyrics. Saturday Savior is one of the most devastatingly honest songs about sexual politics I’ve ever run across. Dirty Blue Balloons and the Nurse Who Loved Me are two of the most perceptive songs about drug addiction I know of. Other reviewers have commented on the unique soundscape of the album, but I don’t know quite how to describe it. As I write this I’m listing to the Flaming Lips’ album Transmissions From the Satellite Heart. Very different style from Fantastic Planet, but similar in the way it uses distortion and ambient sounds to create the sense of an altered reality. It’s amazing the way Failure manages to sustain and deepen this style over the length of the album, which is over an hour long! Do yourself a favor and listen to the samples before you purchase this record. I know a bunch of people who HATE this cd, including some whose musical opinion I respect, so it’s definitely not for everyone. Hope this helps.