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Mr. Bungle - California CD (album) cover

CALIFORNIA

Mr. Bungle

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.98 | 147 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Shakespeare
3 stars Mr. Bungle are even more insane, over-the-top, hilarious, and crude than most of the any earlier RIO or Avant-garde groups. This, however, is not as crude as their previous two releases. The band, known for flowing from countless styles of music within mere 5 minute songs, have eased up on the genre-shifting on this release (but haven't abandoned the concept by any means). Instead of being a vulgar, mildly-insulting, unrealistically-animated band filled to the brim with zeal (an adequate description of their self-titled), their crazed, aggressive musical explorations have been toned down, the metal-edge has been all but erased, and the absolutely absurd, obnoxious, unthinkable, incomprehensible, indescribable experimental ramblings la Moonchild of their previous release (odd enough, their currently most revered output on this here website) have been watered down to the point that the band are threatening to sound unrecognizable. I always appreciate a band that evolves thoroughly with each release, but this specific specimen requires a double - nay, a triple take to identify.

Much to the delight of many a "prog rock purist" (a dying race whose enemy is the over-produced, over-thought, over-achieving arrogant and victorious sharp and precise modern prog musicians) the raw death metal that so many times shone its unavoidable mug in the time-line of Mr. Bungle's debut release has been violently slaughtered. With its only living heir herein being the Eastern-flavoured Ars Moriendi, and the electric and playful None of Them Knew They Were Robots, Mr. Bungle have proved they have a healthy diet of tasty musical variety away from metal. Exploring through numerous unorthodox western genres, crossed, sometimes simultaneously, with very basic contemporary styles, the band creates a musical journey hitherto firmly unmatched.

Among the hodge-podge collection of styles and genres appearing, sometimes famously briefly, are western country, eastern traditional, surfer-boy-swing, music-box music, and even simple, and - daresay - touching acoustical pieces. Gladly, this unthinkable level of creativity requires a minimal amount of musicianship to pull off (though these are certainly no Weezer imitators), and the complexity of the compositions and the swift progress of the atmosphere is where the magic lies - not in the maddened solos, the drug-induced effects, the over-production, the "pretty" lyrics, but in the creativity, where I deem it should lie. Though all others aspects of album-making carry import, the focus is always in the music, and by extension, the originality of the music.

Mike Patton and friends have essentially managed to form something of supreme novelty, something altogether new. Its refreshing waves of individuality and of ingenuity beat endlessly against the inner ear of the listener, stirring the craving for more. But alack, no more will ever come form this refreshing band, as, shortly after the recording of this album, they disbanded and left us their trilogy of releases, each distinct and worth its price. This album, of the three, is "swingier" and likely the most accessible, but still with all the attitudes and philosophies of the previous two woven into its fabric. With its massive range of styles, this album never ceases to entertain, and is really worth a listen.

Shakespeare | 3/5 |

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