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Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante CD (album) cover


Mr. Bungle



4.01 | 217 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars ''Goddammit, I'm pissed off! I didn't get to play on it at all!''

Okay, so I realize there is a lack of RIO/Avant-Prog reviews from me on this site, so I've been recently trying to remedy that. And in my opinion, one cannot claim to be a fan of this type of music and not mention Mr. Bungle at some point. This band did so much to push this style of music forward in the 90s, and many people still claim that this is their favorite band. The music from Mr. Bungle, especially on this album, is not for the feint of heart. Nothing on this release is even remotely easy to digest, but once you allow yourself to escape into the brilliant, otherworldly goofiness that is Disco Volante, there is plenty to enjoy.

Mike Patton the person is a hard one to figure out. He acts at times like he is a genuinely nice guy, while at other times seems to be a huge jerk. Perhaps this dichotomy of a personality is part of what makes Mike Patton the musician so damned brilliant! He's been involved in so many musical projects over the years, and yet this particular musical act, that has of now only released three full-length albums, still stays with people much more than some of Patton's more publicly-accepted works. I think that says quite a lot about the power behind the content, here. It won't be for everybody, but the few who do enjoy it, for whatever reason we do, it's quite worth listening to.

Some people say this stuff is excruciating to listen to. Well, in some ways, it is. But let us not forget that this type of music is not meant to sound like the way music is typically viewed. Instead, this approach to music-making evokes a much more primal, personal side to our emotions. Visual thinking is much more present than audible thinking. Instant shifts in mood, sudden jolts of noise from the side of you (most effective when experienced through headphones!), disturbing, unsettling moments paired with some of the funniest, goofiest stuff I've ever heard on record. It just has to be heard to be believed. None of this should be a problem for you if you understand what this style of music is all about. Don't go into a record like this expecting anything conventional or initially pleasing to the ear, because chances are, in this sub-genre, that won't happen very often. And on a Mr. Bungle record in particular, you can bet that a slightly unsettling listen is in store.

Now please don't read up to this point and assume that Disco Volante is nothing but noise, random silliness and jump- scares. That stuff IS present, as already mentioned, however along with it are some truly strong orchestrations. Yes, they do actually play musical instruments on this album, as well. Not all the time, but when a more 'traditional' song does show up, it's almost always an absolute joy to hear. Much of these more recognizable musical movements are heavily rooted in extreme Metal territory, and probably won't appeal to you unless you already have an affection for that style. Having said all of this, I do think the mixture of doom-ridden, massive soundscapes and the more straightforward moments of music creates a comforting balance between the darkness and light; the sane and insane; the pleasant and the unpleasant; the content and the disturbed. Again, you cannot expect to get into this without completely setting aside anything you previously conceived as acceptable music. You just have to go witht he flow and allow it to take you into the dark, often unsettling territory. The experience of emerging unscathed on the other side once the album is finished is one of the most rewarding feelings I've ever had in my music-listening life.

My favorite songs on the whole things are ''Carry Stress in the Jaw'', ''The Bends'', ''Backstrokin''', ''Platypus'' and ''Merry Go Bye Bye''. While I did mention earlier the significant Metal influences, aside from that there are also some heavy traces of Avant-Garde Jazz and old school Doo Wop. The combination is strange indeed, and when all of these seemingly unrelated genres are integrated into all the noise and random, nonsensical dialogue present on Disco Volante, it certainly makes for one of the more difficult listens you may ever experience. At least first. But as I say, as long as you push yourself to enter the grimy darkness (which is quite heavily present, here), coming out clean on the other side makes it all worth it, and you then realize what an incredible album this truly is.

Patton's vocal abilities make this album what it is,without a doubt. He spastically jumps in-and-out of character, portraying an entire cast of unrelated, incredibly diverse characters. In addition to those moments, when the music valls for it, his singing style adapts to every single genre present on the album at one point or another. One minute he's smoothly carrying on like a 50s lounge singer, and the next he's showing the listener's ears with some truly brutal and effect death growls for the Metal movements. He can do it all, it seems, and on a record like this, the singer being as diverse as this is really the only way vocals could have been pulled off, at all. Some would say this type of music would be impossible to align with vocals, but Mike Patton proves that it can indeed be done, at least as long as he is involved.

Once the whole experience is over, as shaken and unsure of what you just heard you may be, there is a very high chance you're going to want to dive back into that mystery world once again, and that is absolutely saying something. You might think yourself mad for liking this stuff at first, but you can also be proud for sticking it out and aligning yourself to this album's mindset (if an album even has one of those). If you don't dig this type of stuff, you're going to absolutely hate it, but if you are willing to look at music from a completely different perspective and expect different things from it, you're going to appreciate Disco Volante so much more. It's certainly not an album I would recommend to everyone, but at the same time . . . it's got to be listened to. Either way you feel about this, you'll be breathing a heavy sigh of relief once it's over. For some of us, however, at that point, the fun has only just begun.

Long live Mr. Bungle.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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