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Mr. Bungle - Mr. Bungle CD (album) cover

MR. BUNGLE

Mr. Bungle

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.93 | 125 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars If you study these Archives, you'll notice that six of the top-rated seven albums for 1991 are catalogued here as either Progressive Metal or Extreme Prog Metal, which ought to put the appeal of Mr. Bungle's debut effort into better perspective (it was the #10 rated album that year). Lean times indeed for traditional forms of Progressive Rock, but the more hardcore bands were apparently doing very well, even one as irreverent and erratic as Mr. B.

The young group was a second-generation avant-pop ensemble sired by FRANK ZAPPA, but I get the impression they weren't listening to the same music that influenced Uncle Frank: Varèse, Stockhausen, et al. I'm also not entirely convinced their first studio album adds up to a cohesive musical statement, but the level of energy and invention is never less than astonishing. Each of the ten indexed tracks here was built from a dozen or more seemingly random musical phrases and snippets, ranging from chunky metallic guitar riffs to atonal saxophone freakouts to the occasional genuine melody, usually very brief, and surfacing in the mix as if by accident.

The whole thing is wildly (and deliberately) inconsistent, balanced somewhere between a heavy metal klezmer rave and some kind of demented circus soundtrack, minus only the calliopes. The level of musicianship deserves serious kudos, but the band itself doesn't insist on being taken seriously, not with song titles like "Squeeze Me Macaroni" and "My Ass is on Fire". The locker-room humor might be juvenile (don't miss the too-convincing diarrhea sound effect near the end of "Slowly Growing Deaf"), but it makes the album more fun than a barrel of junior high school monkeys.

And yet after a while the unpredictability gets a little too predictable. Were all the speed-freak detours and cut-ups an attempt to organize a surplus of ideas, or a ploy to camouflage the lack of such? It's as if the band was either too impatient to manage an ongoing groove for longer than a single bar, or too hopped up on amphetamines to pause for even a breath.

Maybe it's worth pointing out that the most coherent, least fragmented song here is their ode to onanism ("The Girls of Porn"), complete with pirated movie dialogue. And was it only a coincidence that the immediate next track is titled "Love is a Fist"?

Either way, here's an ideal album for anyone who thinks Les Claypool is too solemn and dignified. Better fans can judge whether or not Mr. Bungle ever matured on later albums. But this rookie effort certainly doesn't hide their potential.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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