Review Summary: "I'm not looking for affection, I'm living on the moon"
Contrary to Fantastic Planet
's reputation, the space themed title and cover art are somewhat of a red herring. The album takes until track 6 for "Blank" to mention the moon and track 9 for "Solaris" to reference outer space in a science fiction context. The remaining songs that reference outer space are Another Space Song, Heliotropic, and Daylight... Meaning only 5 out of the album's 17 songs are related to the title/cover.
This thematic dissonance is expertly hidden underneath the dynamic production, seemless song transitions, and psychedelic layers of guitar feedback. Inspired by The Dark Side of the Moon
, Fantastic Planet
is also bookended by a heart beating over a sound collage of various noises. From the opening seconds of "Saturday Saviour" to the closing seconds of "Daylight," the listener is immersed into the album's "world." The strong musical and aesthetic cohesion turns out to be the album's greatest strength. Not just because it keeps the listener engaged throughout its near 68 minute run time, but because it tricks the listener into overlooking the album's true core theme: heroin addiction. And make no mistake, the drug in question is heroin. There are numerous references to blackened and burnt spoons, incessant skin scratching, "dirty blue balloons," and declining hygiene.
It's ironic. A title like Fantastic Planet
should inspire wonder. Instead, the planet this album exists in is closer to a Savage Planet
- the literal translated title of the film the album is named after. Earth's savagery is not necessarily caused by crime ("Sergeant Politeness"), lack of decent treatments for mental illnesses ("The Nurse Who Loved Me"), or even meaningless sex ("Saturday Saviour"). Rather, Earth's savagery is born from humanity's capacity for indifference towards another person's internal struggles. The only way to escape Earth is by getting high, but unfortunately for some, it leads to addiction. A cycle forms and it's constantly fed by a profound loneliness caused by existing on a planet filled with people who could care less if you're drifting into oblivion. You're also equally as indifferent - after all, no on can hear you scream in space, right?
The homage to The Dark Side of the Moon
was no accident. Creating a cyclical listening experience deepens the tragedy of Fantastic Planet
's songs. Highs are temporary and when you crash back to Earth, you've still got the same mundane life and problems you tried to leave behind. The more you try to retain the high, the further you drift into space and isolation. Revisiting outer space is no longer about the euphoria. It's about filling an insatiable blank space burrowed into the mind like a summer tick; a blank space as empty as the galaxy is vast.
Still, there's a silver lining. The heartbeat/sound collage fades into "Saturday Saviour" and fades out of "Daylight," meaning the cycle doesn't perfectly loop into itself. "Daylight won't find us here" may be the album's final lyric, but light always find a way to seep through even the thinnest cracks in total darkness. Cycles can be broken - it's incredibly hard but not impossible.