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Mr. Bungle - California CD (album) cover


Mr. Bungle



4.11 | 211 ratings

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5 stars This is a MUST OWN. Guaranteed to blow your mind with it's vibe-precise production techniques & the most vivid & exciting music arrangements your are likely ever to hear.

I love alot of Patton related stuff, but this to me is the most focused & elevated output of any of his 'projects'.

This band grew out of a buncha smartassed friends who held a common love for music & it's possibilities, their 1st two major label releases ('Mr. Bungle' & the epic, 'Disco Volante') were a great relief to many who were soured at the 1990's musical landscapes' overly safe sensibilities.

'California' retains alot of Mr. Bungles' inspired & experimental approach to material, but with a refinement in all the players' abilities, their increased sensitive approach to using recording/engineering towards realising the vision of each song, Patton's vocal ideas/orchestrations & their songwriting in general.

Staring off with 'Sweet Charity' seems innocent enough, until you realize that the casual surfy attitude of the song is in stark contrast to the lyric which is either an affirmation that the end of the world has begun or an admition of journey into madness, although the two go hand in hand. Sweet spring reverb drenched hawaiian slide guitar & a very thematic feel. The kettle drums opening up their sound more like music composed for orchestra or film.

'None Of Them Knew They Were Robots' is Mr. Bungle showing us quick they didn't go soft on us. The lyric, reading like an laundry list of apocalyptic images while the music boogies & swings like bebop or bigband era music but with a rock intensity, mixing elements of jazz with rockabillly & surf , soap opera & 60's sci-fi soundtracks , lounge, Esquivel-isms & the ability to juggle more than 4 elements at once successfully. An artful & exciting bludgeoning if ever there was one.

'RetroVertigo' has a pop-like feel only to be matched by the songs' dark lyrics, which tend to ask, hasn't it all been done before. Sounding like an epitaph for the human race inability to progress beyond what we know has rarely sounded this alluring.

'The Air Conditioned Nightmare' starts off like an odd metered Beach Boys' vocal acapella piece, only waiting to explode into future robot surf-rock. Again, the lyrics painting a disturbing landscape of madness, but with an attitude of acceptance & a twist happy ending.

'Ars Morendi' is probably the best music made for the craziest Italian cartoon that has never existed, elements of metal sneaking in around the old-world folk-disco musings always engaging the listener, most of my friends' initial responses to this song is simply lots of laughter & profound amazement.

'Pink Cigerette' is a nod to Ennio Morricone & every song Quentin Tarentino has used. A heartbreaking tale of abuse which ends in suicide, but with the victim seeming to relish the discovery of their body by the one that hurt them so bad. It feels like an early 60's guitar ballad but with a lyric that again belies what one would expect.

'Gollem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy' just might be a song sent from the future to warn us about artificial intelligence. Vocoder effected vocals, clavinet, wurlitzer & drums that seem to change their perceived recorded space about every 4 bars. Most people who would attempt such a thing would inevitibly ruin their effort by sinking under the weight of all the ideas, but here again, Bungle seemlessly reinvent funk with a percolating mechanized precision.

'The Holy Filament' is more film music, this time the feature is a new movie about Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteaus' last voyage after death into the oceanic reality of an interconnected infinite multiverse. Indeed I think it's a crime that Patton, Spruence, Dunn, McKinnon, Heifetz (& Winant) aren't asked to make music for film more often if at all.

'Vanity Fair' sounds like a a 50's doo-wop with all of the chord changes 3 steps left of center. the lyrics are a psychedelic stream of consciousness meets primal instinct excursion.

Closing with 'Goodbye Sober Day' which encapsulates almost every Bungle concept up to that point in their existence, this is music of the past twisted incredibly into something new, & made into a music for the future.

'California' covers almost as many genres as music has to offer, melding them together & not reinventing the wheel, but giving it a damn nice new set of rims.

We can only hope that the members of this band one day agree to get together & make more music hopefully as challenging / adventurous & focused as this, if only to amuse eachother.

| 5/5 |


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