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Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante CD (album) cover


Mr. Bungle



4.01 | 217 ratings

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Retired Admin
4 stars Where's the Kitchen Sink?

When Mr. Bungle's debut album came out in 1991, it was a coup of sorts. Thanks to Mike Patton's success in Faith No More, suddenly an avant-garde rock band from the John Zorn school of Blink-and-You'll-Miss-It, released an album on Warner Brothers, about as "major" as labels get. Faith No More were fairly weird for a popular band, but nothing prepared people for this. The debut album wowed me to no end for a year or so, but after a while, the over-the-top carnival atmosphere and pornographic funk metal tracks lost their novelty for me and I put the group away.

When "Disco Volante" came out, I didn't even consider buying it at first, figuring I'd heard all I needed to from the band already. But when I read a review assuring me it was "100% Uncompromising" (I remember that quote), from a prog rock publication no less, I was intrigued and picked up a copy at the next opportunity.

A complete and utter surprise. This is music wherein the band seemingly wrote down every twisted musical idea that came into their head, and all of it somehow worked its way into this unbelievably dense album. Metal music, while present, is no longer the focus of the band's sound; rather, the pieces seem to fall into two groups - a) songs that present whiplash-inducing changes of style, tempo, and volume several times during the song, and b) songs that explore a single style, but executed in a way designed to sound completely different from what you've heard before.

In the former category, a big thumbs up to "Carry Stress in the Jaw" (note: the original LP version had a hidden track within the grooves of this song; for the CD version, this secret song is just tacked on to the end, and comprises the last 3 minutes or so of the track), "Merry Go Bye Bye", and "Platypus", all of which use (death?) metal as a contrasting element to surf rock, jazz, and lounge. In the latter category, we have the utterly incredible "Desert Search for Techno Allah", a previously unheard-of marriage of electro-techno and Middle Eastern music - this concept was later turned into the basis for an entirely new band, Secret Chiefs 3, by Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance (also highly recommended), Equally memorable is the cinematic "Violenza Domestica", which comes across like a radio drama (in Italian) complete with suspense music and breaking glass.

The album's not perfect, though. At the end of the album, there's about 6 minutes of random percussion noises with occasional tuneless noises that are kind of a waste of time (another "hidden track" tacked onto the end of "Merry Go Bye Bye"). "The Bends" is another track that fans seem divided on. While I think the idea of a 10 minute scary ambient track in the middle of all this madness is an inspired one, and its purpose as an audio depiction of someone getting the "bends" is clear (decompression syndrome, often experienced by deep sea divers), it ultimately fails to produce much effect, and just doesn't have that much going on to justify the length.

A solid 4 stars - and one of the strangest albums Warner Brothers has ever released.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |


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