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


Mr. Bungle


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James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One of the few albums that kept me interested in prog during the 90's, MR. BUNGLE (the band or the album) was a Zappa-esque cacophany of talented alternative-rock offbeats getting weird and working out their musical chops. While DREAM THEATER was ruling the glossy metal end of the spectrum, the inexorable influence of punk and even funk began to filter into a generation of musical explorers. The sound is dominated by Mike Patton's unmistakable voice- most of these tracks would not sound too out of place next to FAITH NO MORE's "Angel Dust"-era recordings- but delve more deeply into wild and intricate flights of musical insurrection. If Zappa had utilized alternative-rock textures, it might have sounded like this; certainly the dark humor and cultural references bring Frank to mind, as do the odd meters and dissonant scales. However, this is progressive rock for a generation more familiar with (or at least more influenced by) the BUTTHOLE SURFERS and FISHBONE. I particularly enjoy "My ass is on fire" with its heavy guitar, twittering horns, and "Blue Velvet"- inspired mutterings. The album's dissonances and metric juggling does grate after a while, and this is definitely not a sound that prog purists will immediately take to, but it was an inspired attempt to merge a progressive rock sensibility with 90s alternative influences.
Report this review (#31086)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars the BIBLE when introducing Mike Patton and simply Genius. Mr. Bungle itself would never repeat this album. If you are an adventurous listener and have listened to the most extremes of band, even THEN should you be prepared. goed luck listening!
Report this review (#31088)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album does not sound like a prog album. It sounds like a bunch of albums strategically peiced together with little bits in each song. I had a time figuring out whether to give it five stars or not only because I wouldn't say it is prog. But this album is so great that there is no way it could ever get below five stars. Many people think of Mr. Bungle and they think of Mike Patton, but honestly, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn have had just as much to do with Mr. Bungle as Patton. "Slowly Going Deaf" is actually Sleep Part 1, parts 2&3 are on "Disco Volante," all of which are by Trevor.

The songs on this album are each different then the others. "Dead Goon" has one of the craziest bass lines ever, Trevor has said that no bass player in their right mind would have created it (their drummer did). It goes from a creepy circus thing to a less creepy circus thing to a dark and sinister, suspenceful intro to a crazy parade; and that is only the first few minutes. "Stubb (A Dub)" begins with a sort of 80's ballad thing, then moves into a a evil funky fill, then a bunch of other pieces that I really can't discribe to well.

This is a very unique album, but well worth every penny you'll ever pay for it. You will begin to suffer from Bungle addiction before to long if you don't watch it. This music may be different in its own respect, but it is some of the best music that can be bought.

Report this review (#31089)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars 2,5 stars really!!!!!

Bungle's first album is crazy mix of many influences. You can be sure these guys listened to many different sort music and their influences are plainly clear from song to song. From Zappa to Red Hot Chilli peppers to some Henry Cow/Samla Manna Mamma or other RIO groups , these guys play it all. Mike Patton ( Faith No More) is the leader of this strange combo working part time (only three albums in some 15 years), and this can be seen as an offshoot from his main band , but Bungle cannot be resumed to him alone. All members are experts at their instruments raising the level of the band's collective virtuosity to an impressive level. However superb the musicianship might be , my problem with this album is the clear lack of direction of the album. Yes , the band is impressive with their working out almost every conceivable musical style, but this is exactly the problem: the music goes north east , west and south ,but really goes nowhere past the point of "wowing" you with their dexterity. Bungles still gets more than satisfactory grades from a first try and gives plenty of promises for future albums (little did we know the next album would come out four years later) , but in fact this album will remain my favourite of theirs.

If you love Zappa , RHCP, FNM, SMM, Miriodor, early Guapo and a bit of hardcore metal, this album will make love to your ear holes , lubrication not necessary . However repeated listening will causes general impotence.

Report this review (#31092)
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is by far the most experimental and at the same time most succesful album of the whole 90s. It is vastly influential in underground circles and it introduced us to the madman Mike Patton. All i can or need to say about Patton, is that he is best singer i have ever heard and most adventurous vocalist known to mankind. I have listened to this record since basic-school days and i must say that this is very important album for me. It has changed my thoughts of the whole music scene. Later i was introduced to such legendary artists as Frank Zappa who is only one who, i think, can still surpass the achievements of these pioneers here. Music in this album is very catchy and funky, but every piece has its own oddities that makes them unforgettable experiences. First time around you just wonder around the album and try to decide whats its best or worst thing and soon you just give up and say: THIS IS A TRUE DEVILISH MASTERPIECE OF MUSIC IN ITS PUREST FORM! If you havent heard of this or other album by mr bungle, as your attorney i advice you to try one. It may change your life, but at least it changes your idea of the music as a whole. My favourite album is Zappa's Hot Rats and this comes next. Simply one of the best. Squeeze me macaroni!
Report this review (#50161)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Mr. Bungle's debut is like a really crazy drive in and around a circus.

You can clearly see that the band has ambition and some very interesting yet strange ideas but still aren't well used. The album is actually a ska album but with avant-garde influences instead of what people say that is an avant-garde album with ska influences. The album starts with a bang! with "travolta" and pretty much stays hyper for the rest of the album. This album also showcases Mr. Bungle's most funniest moments in there career so you can expect finishing the album with some good laughs. The atmosphere of the album is like a carnival run by evil clowns trying to convert you into there crazy religion (I know, is that crazy). I have some minor problems with the album. The first one is that some songs tend to drag along in there last minutes. It's actually good for the first 2-3 listenings but then it gets pretty annoying at times. The other problem I have with the album is that at times the lyrics can become a little bit ... cruel and leaves a bad taste but problems aside, this is a very enjoyable and hilarious album that can be appreciated by almost anyone looking for a crazy drive into crazy town.

I recommend this album to people who have already heard the latter Mr. Bungle albums or anything that Mr. Patton has made. If you don't like it, don't be afraid because none of Mr. Bungle's works are the same in ANY way.

Report this review (#70238)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A masterpiece of the deranged. This album comes out as being demented, schizofrenic and completely twisted all the way through both musically and lyrically, dealing with everything from mastrubation to people hanging themselves in mommy's underwear, with fitting background music. Go figure. Definitely not for the faint of heart but rather for those who don't take life as seriously as others, I have to admit that lyrics are hilarious all the way through and Mike Patton's vocal acrobatics are just getting them better. Musically this album acquires pretty much everything that was popular in the early 90's and turned it inside-out together with a attachment for circus music. The songs rarely stays in one place for long jumping effortlessly from different genres, usually within few minutes sounding perfectly 'normal' one moment and completely off the hook another. At 73 minutes it's one of the few albums at this lenght that actually keeps a consitent quality over all the songs, all being perfectly excecuted and with impressive musicianship.

Interested? then you might have found your new favorite album, though Mr. Bungle would release their ultimate masterpiece a few years later this is still one of those albums you have to hear before you die. Im not going to spoil the rest of the fun, just get this rollercoaster now. This album also features a lot of sampling from various video tapes and nintendo games inbetween or in the tracks. Can you guess'em all?

Report this review (#77871)
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars BINGO! This album is quite a masterpiece. Every track offers something next and you never know what is going to happen in the next measure of any song at any time. It will completely blow you away. Tracks 3-8 are the real highlights. This for the most part is when Mike Patton really takes his band to the next level in a weird bizzare-yet-excessible way. Squeeze Me Macaroni even brings back Faith No More like Funk/Rock. The band is quite incredible, and the songs are songs that you will be singing along to before the song is even over. Not too many musicians can balance this fine line too well at all. And Mr. Bungle usually can't. But boy did they ever on this album!
Report this review (#93652)
Posted Saturday, October 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars I hate this band. They are ridiculously overrated. According to the countless gushing reviews of this album, you're supposed to be breathless and blown away by the band's overpowering talent. When I finished listening to this, I had grown so unspeakably tired of their smug "look at us!" genre changes in EVERY BLOODY SONG, the irritating-as-hell vocals by Mike Patton and the completely stupid, unfunny lyrics that I simply could not take it anymore and gave up before the last several songs. This is the sound of a one trick pony whose only trick is trying to sound eclectic.
Report this review (#97513)
Posted Tuesday, November 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Maniacal, twisted, perverted, evil. These are words you could describe Mr. Bungle's debut with. Blending everything from lounge-jazz to death metal all within one song is no easy feat, and yet they seem to flow from the drastically different styles quite coherently. Listening to this album is no easy feat, as it (like the other two official studio releases from Mr. Bungle) is dense in structure and the sudden shifts can catch the listener off guard. There's some aura emitted from it that I just can't escape from. The group's brand of off-the-wall avant-funk-metal was a breath of fresh air in the early 90s and really set this group apart from everyone else.

What you can get out of this album musically is just about everything you could possibly imagine. Although this sort of experimentation is more prevalent on Disco Volante, this album shows those sentiments in an early, more raw form that, in my opinion comes off terribly well. When listening to this album you'll also know how perverted/childish the lyrics can be, especially in the free-form song Squeeze Me Macaroni and the infamous Girls of Porn. However, what I really like about these songs is the backing music, which is everything from funk to death metal, to raunchy sax music all within one song, a trademark Mr. Bungle acquired.

Mr. Bungle's debut may not be the easiest album to listen to (although Disco Volante is a much harder listen on first try), it's an interesting timepiece that shows a band expanding from their early days and planting the seeds to what their next album, their most recognized work Disco Volante, would become. If you want pure avant-garde insanity, go with Disco Volante. If you want accessible and catchy music, go with California. And if you want something that has elements of both, then go with this album, you probably won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#110566)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Talk about an excelent album. I stumbled on to Mr. Bungle on accident by reading a magazine that had an article about them. I thought it would be interesting because the caption under Mr. Bungle was "for aquired tastes only!" Since i had a somewhat of a backround of Avant Garde with Franck Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and Henry Cow, i decided that i should check them out. The first song that is on the album is Quote Unquote, which upon listening made me frightened but wanted to hear MORE. As the tracks went by i passed Squeeze me Macaroni, Egg, Love is a fist, Dead goon (i´m skipping some essential tracks of course). at the end of the album i was amazed at the musicianship and creativity that was put out. It was indeed an aquired taste....and i found it! Not every one is going to like this album...let alone stand it. its very random, genre hoping, and sparatic. but thats what i love about it. For someone who has never heard of Mr. Bungle of any Avant Garde bands...start small and work your way up to Mr. Bungle. Its a hard tothing to jump right into them and like them immedietly. 4 stars. Excellent album.
Report this review (#127512)
Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Out of the three albums this magical avant-garde band released, this is sometimes the most overlooked. Sadly, too, because it is equally as strong as the other two, and often I find myself enjoying it more. It is just as experimental as Disco Volante, though not quite as liquid or explicitly so. It has a genuine outrageous, spastic, disastrous, bizarre, monstrous, insane atmosphere. But, despite these crazy qualities the music deserves, it is extremely enjoyable, and the jazzy side to the album is so addictive. The experimental nature does not spoil this experience, as it sometimes does elsewhere, but makes the jazzy sections so refreshing.

The ridiculous vocals from now-legendary Mike Patton are incredibly varied. It's like an improv Jim Carrey skit: and all his silly voices recorded and imitated. The concepts of the songs are as varied, but likely a bit crazier. Background voices, and recorded spoken word add a sometimes strange, sometimes psychedelic mood. Like Zappa, this band manages to combine ridiculous comedy with complex writing, powerful playing, controversial/insulting subject matter, experimental disposition, and a really, really memorable and tasty jazzy side. Musicianship is noteworthy, but while listening to the album, you will most likely not notice this, as all the instruments mould together to create a single sound, and it is tough enough to keep your head around what's going on in the front-ground to be thinking about each individual instrument.

Never has an album, Zappa or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, encompassed so many different genres under its hood(And neither can they shift so quickly from style to style!) The only albums that come any where near are Mr. Bungle's two other releases, both equally strong. It ranges from lounge jazz, to carnival music, to videogame music, to techno, to downright experimental, to death metal, to standard funk rock. It's amazing, and surprisingly baffling, to hear the entirety of this album. Although it is painful for the ears, completely revolting and absurd, you will constantly be coming back for more, and find yourself day dreaming about the outlandish compositions, and the swiftly shifting tempos. Totally non-commercial, one hundred and fifty percent unique, and wholly perplexing, Mr. Bungle is a nightmare put on CD: and I love it. However, sometimes it is a little bit overwhelming, and too violent and insulting, though still very interesting. Try it and decide for yourself.

Report this review (#133695)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album single-handedly got me into both prog and metal.

My friend recommended me this album because I was into The Mars Volta at the time (for some odd reason he thought they were similar) so I put it on and laughed for literally 70 minutes, the entire duration of the album, MR. BUNGLE I loved everything about them, the nonsensical lyrics, the things they do to deliberately annoy the listener, the references to their record label hidden their lyrics, the utter sillyness of it all. MR. BUNGLE are a very unique band, they meld just about every genre under the sun from jazz to metal to bossa nova to carnival music usually in the space of one song and usually liberally sprinkled with crazy production and samples and their debut self titled album is the height of their song writing creativity and considering the above it's an amazing achievement that the band were able to create one self-contained cohesive song let alone 10.

MR. BUNGLE is something of an all-star lineup these days, all of the core musicians are amazingly prolific and all have/had many side-projects and different records most notably front man Mike Patton (FAITH NO MORE, FANTOMAS) who contributes some great schizophrenic vocals and hilarious lyrics along with some great synth work. Trey Spruance (SECRET CHIEFS 3, FAXED HEAD) contributes some of the best material here with his styles ranging from ska to metal to funk, his riffs are very interesting and very very original. Trevor Dunn (FANTOMAS, SECRET CHIEFS 3) contributes some amazingly funky bass to the equation and coupled with understated yet super smooth jazzy drummer Danny Heifetz (SECRET CHIEFS 3, FAXED HEAD) coupled with 2 saxophonists the group is complete, their eclectic styles meshing to form a mentally deranged musical leviathan.

There are many many highlights on the album but my main gripe is that there are fairly long intros and outros to a lot of the songs but there is some funny stuff that goes on there a lot of the time (including a recording of Mike Pattons bout of gastric trouble).

Opening song Quote Unquote (originally called Travolta after actor John Travolta but changed to the name of his official biography to avoid legal troubles) is probably the most straight up song, a metallic song starting invoking the trademark Bungle carnival atmosphere.

Slowly Growing Deaf is a definate highlight, it's probably the most serious song on the album but it's amazing when it moves from upbeat ska to pseudo-thrashy metal and the quiet parts add a a great contrast.

Squeeze me Macaroni is absolutely off the hook with funky bass, frenetic ska guitar and fevered rantings about fornication in a kitchen in disgusting detail.

Carousel is another fantastic song, invoking images of a dilapidated fair ground with some great synth/organ work from Patton.

Egg is a hilarious song pondering the age old question of which came first the egg or the chicken? ending in frustrating fashion chanting There's no place like home 2 times before faltering on the third time (MR. BUNGLE never did make it back to Kansas unfortunately) followed by audio of the band when they went train surfing.

Stubb a Dub is a great little song (without guitar surprisingly, it's hard to notice it though) about a dog that thinks it's a person.

My Ass Is On Fire is another hilarious song about the aftermath of eating hot chili, the heaviest song on the album featuring a massive chorus with drums that sound like someone pounding on corrugated iron.

The Girls of Porn is one of the funniest songs on the album with some sleazy wah bass and lyrics about masturbation and pornography featuring samples from pornographic movies (including one where the male actor is called Mr Bungle) with a hilarious breakdown detailing all kinds of distasteful acts, it's very unsavoury but belly-achingly funny.

Love is a Fist is another great metallic song detailing how Patton feels strongly against violence.

The ending song Dead Goon is a bit lackluster to be honest but it features an amazing bass riff from Dunn and some great carnival moments but overall nothing much happens, it's a shame it would be good if such a fantastic album ended strongly.

Overall MR. BUNGLE is a riot, full of laughs, fully of zany antics and very out there compositions abound with great moments, highly recommended to anyone into funny music and avant-garde stuff, fans of ZAPPA and FANTOMAS would definitely enjoy.

Report this review (#141961)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars "It's not funny my ass is on fire" well actually, yes it is. The only question is did you get severely spanked, eat food that way too hot and spicy (red hot chili peppers perhaps? FRA?), or insert something somewhere where it shouldn't ought to go?

I have a lot of odd albums in my collection and this one is certainly one of them.

I'm almost certain I would not have gone for this kind of thing back in 1991, however Porcupine Tree, Primus, and others have warmed me up a bit more to metallic fragments in prog.

If you value coherence in music, for the love of God(s)(eses)(ests) avoid this at all cost, and if you don't, fasten yourself in. 'Tis a really weird and wacky ride.

Report this review (#173384)
Posted Monday, June 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As Frank Zappa himself once said, Does comedy belong in music. Well, he didn't say it in as many words, but basically Zaphead asked the age-old question the Avant-Garde fringe has been asking the elite of Fine Art: must you incessantly take yourselves 'so' seriously? That's the question this Northern California group repositioned with their classic 1991 debut, aptly-titled Mr. Bungle. It also didn't hurt that the group had the addition of avant-maniac vocalist Mike Patton, fresh off of Faith No More's recent success, Mr. Bungle secured an odd recording contract with Warner Bros. and unleashed this delightfully bizarre cornucopia of madness upon the world. Some liken them to an Avant-Garde messiah, others say they've only released sewage trapped in a jewel case; but whether you love or hate Mr. Bungle (and you will either love them or hate them, trust me), one cannot deny the sheer mammoth talent of the musicianship and tight cohesion of the group.

At first glance, tracks like 'Quote, Unquote' (originally titled 'Travolta' until threats of a lawsuit from the actor forced them to retitled it after an unauthorized biography of said actor), 'Slowly Growing Deaf' or 'Dead Goons' indeed come off as trite little pawn-shop knockoffs of their respective parent genres, and certainly in the hands of lesser musician's would become noise; but with Bungle everything comes of as painfully deliberate. From the screams during the middle of 'Squeeze me Macaroni', or the hilariously debauched filth of 'the Girls of Porn' (which feature soundbites from an adult-film featuring a character named Mr. Bungle), Mike Patton & co. deliver earnest spaz-rock. Vocalist Mike Patton proves why he is the best singer in Rock, as he shifts from country crooner to Frank Sinatra (sinfully Sin-Atra) without missing a beat. Or the Deranged Death-Metal growls or the doo-wop homage, heck even tribal music is within the reach of this maniac. Even though his delivery tends to be Schmaltzy, you can't deny how groundbreaking AND fun this music is.

The rest of the band tends to be more of a background fixture, with Guitarist Trey Spruance being the only other member that brings the kind of variety and subtly to match Patton's star power. Producer John Zorn manages to keep the group cohesive (in a relative sense as everything with Bungle is), and the increased budget that a Major Label provides makes this a big step up from their muddy-sounding demo tapes. All in all, if you love this kind of music, you know it, and if you don't, please don't start here as you will be frightened and never return. Rating: A+

Report this review (#186328)
Posted Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Squeeze Me Macaroni....

1991, Faith No More are MTVs favorites thanks to Epic and then Falling to Pieces, the Real Thing is the hottest album of the land prior to truly meteoric destruction that was Nevermind. Mike Patton, who is a new addition to the established band, is outperforming Chris Cornell live, and then.....

You ain't seen nothing yet.

Words cannot describe what this album was for those of us who could actually understand it. The graphic lyrics, the wild juxtaposition of style, the complete disregard for commercial appeal, it was shock and a exhilirating breath of, well certainly not fresh air, but a funk we hand't smelled ever before.

The band I was in tried to attempt some of these songs and we simply weren't up to the task at the time. There was one other band on the scene that could pull them off and believe me those were some memorable parties. No one incorporated metal into music this complex at that time. No one incorporated circus music quite like this...well maybe ever. Patton gets to really begin showing his true breadth that he continued to expand to the point that he is...well we know where he stands among the art rock community now. That position was probably cemented by the sophomore, perhaps even more audatious and artistically adventurous Disco Volante. But that album would never had been allowed to be made without this album.

Though these lyrics include some of the worst pottymouth in the history of recorded music, there is some real humor here. Squeeze Me Macoroni with it's descriptions of previous undescribable acts with Betty Crocker is a personal fave, and there are many other gems.

The ease with which this band makes it's transitions is phenomenal, and as I go back now a listen to this after experiencing Unexpect and the many Bungle offspring such as Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, the changes here seem natural and perfect. I have to get my mind into a certain set before being able to listen to this, but when I'm there, wow.

Like many masterpieces, others have imitated this and perhaps improved on the ideas. Fans who were there rate ITCOTCK as a masterpiece and I, who wasn't, hear a good but not really that impressive album. I read reviews of this album ranging from too much to too pasted together to simply saying that their later work is more artistically important.

But in the context of those who were immersed in music in 1991, this is a masterpiece. And it remains so when I listen to it now.

Report this review (#203916)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars So I heard a lot of talking about Mike Patton, and how great he is... well, he is great! He has a fantastic voice, incredibly powerful but also very beautiful when needed, and he is incredibly creative and has that amount of insanity any good singer must have. So where to start with Mike Patton's work? I thought of the three most well known bands, Faith No More, Fantomas and Mr. Bungle, well so Faith No More is alternative rock, hmm... Fantomas is metal and probably too hard for me, so why shouldn't I start with Mr. Bungle? Avant-Garde sounds cool! And it does sound cool, but, the problem is the density, the complexity and the heaviness of the songs, while you can make it through for the first 4 songs quite well ("Slowly Growing Deaf" is amazing), "Egg", the 5th song, is a perfect example to resume this album, it is tiring, annoying, dumb and very very hard to follow, and, from now on, all the tracks sound incredibly boring, sure they all have catchy choruses, but they are so tiring and long! I consider it to be impossible to give full attention to the last track, you're just so tired and it just sounds like a directionless jam. This could be exceptional, if they had make the best out of this, but it just very hard to take this as an album.
Report this review (#228347)
Posted Saturday, July 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Debut album of Mr.Bungle is a crazy mix. Formed around Mike Patton, still Faith No More vocalist at that time, band just use all possible musical styles in most unusual combinations. Just imagine The Mars Volta playing avant-metal mixed by John Zorn, using his file cards music method ( yes, John Zorn produced this album, and you will feel it). Or Red Hot Chilly Peppers, playing ska. Add circus atmosphere, free jazz structures and samples from well known movies soundtracks (like Lynch's Blue Velvet) and TV commercials.

Yes, even by ingredients you can feel the John Zorn's hand on this mix, but the music is grown from different ground: whole atmosphere is pure heavy metal, not avant jazz. All this funky chaos isn't easy listening, even if build from accessible parts. Very different, very energetic and never boring, this album could become a pleasant surprise for open eared metal fan, and really are one of rare quality real avant - metal example.

Report this review (#259313)
Posted Monday, January 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite album of all time. This started my whole appreciation for Mike Patton and his other works. Of course, we shouldn't forget about the other members of this band, for they have also given us a lot to offer from their own arsenals. Now, back to this band. This band is definitely: Weird. It can be difficult to newcomers, but if you give it time, you might even grow to like this album, you might be surprised. All the songs are un-commercialized completely and sound so different that people might think that this band would be unlistenable. Now, that's the idea because Patton and his friends wanted to give us something that would surprise us and even scare us. The most special thing about this album is that it can give different experiences and opinions to different listeners. In other words, everyone has it's own personal feeling about the stuff that Patton sings and the sounds that get packed inside your brain - a very hard-to-forget album. I recommend this album to anyone, who wants to hear something special. A masterpiece.
Report this review (#550641)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having refined their sound with a range of rare cassette-only releases, Mr Bungle's debut album sees them establish themselves as the most terrifying force in avant-garde alternative metal. Unlike, say, Slipknot or Insane Clown Posse, Bungle never let their mask/clown fixation cross the line into the cartoonish, ensuring that they remained a sinister and enigmatic presence at their live gigs of the time.

This is carried through into the sound of the album, in which Mike Patton truly steals the show with his incredible vocal gymnastics. The musical backing doesn't quite hit the bizarre territory it would reach on the following album, but it's still very enjoyable, with Quote Unquote (AKA Travolta) being one of the best opening songs of an album I've ever heard. No Mike Patton fan should be without one.

Report this review (#605581)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This is a bizarre and enjoyable album. From the start, you know you are in for a good time. The music is a mixture of Funkadelic/Fishbone style funk, a hefty helping of punk , and a strong dose of prog and experimentalism. At the best of times, the album sounds quite a bit like Oingo Boingo gone wild. At the worst of times, the experimentalism devolves into a mush of noise and screaming. The latter I can do without.

The rush of high energy and the anything goes atmosphere makes this album sound like a precursor to the modern prog of The Mars Volta. I would feel safe advising TMV fans to check out this album.

Report this review (#656744)
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
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: Varčse, 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.

Report this review (#914537)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can I say about this album? Where do I begin? Just seeing it sit on the table, with that iconic [%*!#]ed up clown face, I feel it is radioactive, or a type of kryptonite, infusing me with energy rather than draining me, but a demented, perverse, megalomaniacal Court-Jester- on-acid kind of energy, manic, delirious, and scary!

The adventure actually begins with the CD artwork, the majority of which is taken from "A Cotton Candy Autopsy" by Dave Louapre, released in 1989 as the first edition of the comic series "Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children". Visually it is a tour de force of Coulrophobia, depicting scenes of a dead clown lying bloody by a dumpster, a troupe of clowns driving a car with the body strapped to the hood, a drunk and belligerent bottle-waving clown scaring a bunch of crying children at a birthday party. Crazy clown faces everywhere, welcome to the Fun, er?Horror house! The back of the disc shows a man in a chair holding a bloody knife in one hand and his own head in the other, presumably he sliced it off himself. A red devil of the classical variety sits by his feet, smiling in apparent approval. The band credits show Vlad Drac as Singer, Heifetz on Drums, Guitar by Scummy, Trevor Roy Dunn plays Bass, Tenor Sax ? Bar, Theobald Brooks Lengyel ? Alto & Bari Intonation.

I first heard this in a motel room in Nashville, when Geoff and I drove up to visit the Echolyn guys while they were recording "As the World", another great and iconic progressive rock album of the 90's. A bunch of us were sitting around taking turns playing different discs. I had just played some of Zappa's "Roxy& Elsewhere". Ray Weston got up and put on this, the first Mr. Bungle disc. I had never even heard of them. The sounds hit me like they did when I first heard King Crimson's "Lark's Tongues in Aspic", or when I first heard Zappa's "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast". I was dumbfounded. Wha? It was sonic chaos but with purpose, and I couldn't make any sense of it at first. It was like being assaulted. The vortex of strange and uniquely arranged sounds spun by my heard, and I didn't even know if it worked or not, if I even liked it. I understood why you would play this after Zappa, for the rhythms were challenging with lots of surprising changes, also blasts of heavy distorted guitar like Sabbath on steroids, zany horn passages sprinkled hither and yon, sudden interludes of pure noise, very RIO-ish craziness, overall a bizarre palette. And that voice, commanding in its range of styles, and over-the-top histrionics with cartoony babbles, lounge-jazz crooning, squeaks and squeals, the distorted screams that cut like a jagged razor. I thought the band was fronted by some technological Borg-demon! I had never heard a voice like it before. From screeching wails and shrieks to guttural growls and whispers, like a hundred voices in one throat, all of it was delivered with the palpable confidence of a natural, and a master of his craft. And what better way to discover the talents of Mike Patton than on this, the first masterpiece of his career? I do not think it a coincidence that he achieved this under the tutelage of John Zorn, who shared the Producer's hat for this project.

The first track "Quote Unquote" begins unconventionally, with over 30 seconds of barely audible snoring. If you don't turn your volume up enough you will think there is something wrong, where's the [%*!#]ing music? A glass shatters, probably knocked off the nightstand, and WAAAAA!!!!! Power chords towering high as the Himalaya roar out, with a Twilight Zone keyboard theme. Horror movie metal! A Gateway has opened. The Hosts of Hell ride out through walls of fire. You are at the entrance of an insane carnival, check your mind at the door! Mr. Bungle in evil clown face lies loutishly on a pedestal. No god or devil is he but both rolled into one, the ultimate no-count, the ultimate outcast, the ultimate Fuck Up, but of Ubermensch proportions! A shock-ska groove plays, warped for a new modern Schizophrenic Age, sci-fi keyboard notes pushing the upbeat as the bass and drums hammer it down. Patton comes in, voice swimming in a warbly effect.

"All behold the spectacle/ A fleshy limbless rectangle / Sitting on a pedestal / So nasal handicapable / Sniff and remember silver ball / Contortions that he can't recall / The torso on a trampoline / The happy melts into dream."

The music drops into the first of its many changes, a Jimmy Smith-type jazz swing, pattering rain cymbal smatter and Hammond Organ. Brutal dissonant keyboard chords quickly interrupt the dream and an ascending, classical sounding riff takes over, full of menace. Patton ups the ante with a clean, soaring tenor:

"To talk is an enunciated sneeze / to taste is some foul air to breathe."

The building tension is suddenly cheated as the music drops off again into a dreamy yet disconcerting jazz underworld, Patton's voice drifting in and out of the shadows. Just as suddenly it is fulfilled with a stomping metal riff turned alien prog-groove bathed in odd colored dissonant keyboards pulsing like sirens. Patton's hyper-macho basso commands attention with a bizarre declaration:

"One thought it lasts a day, and at that rate he'll most likely live forever!!!!!!!!! He's a bird in flight, a hermaphrodite, and he [%*!#]s himself as he [%*!#]s" (here the voice becomes an apocalyptic roar) "the world!!!!!"

WAAAAAA! The Himalayan power chords return with the horror theme, and the song cycles through another progression of sci-fi rock and jazz trade-offs before Patton hones in more upon the subject matter:

"He's got an itch, but nothing with which to scratch the itch, so wish it away! With his mouth sewn shut he still shakes his butt, cuz he's Hitler and Swayze and Trump and (said alone as a whisper) Travolta!"

Boom! The music drops back into jazz alley nightmare and lingers there as a backdrop for Patton to paint a beautifully subtle vocal collage of delay-effected micro screeches, inhaled squeals, and deep-throat gags and chokes before the keyboard wash almost fades out. Almost. There is no moment of real lasting silence on this album, for all songs segue into the next, always with sonic experiments that are interesting in their own right. Here a frenzy of sax squeaks and breathy duck calls (probably Zorn) sandwich a field recording of a horn- blowing passing train ? a foreshadowing ? that leads into the next song.

"Slowly Growing Deaf" blasts in with 5 seconds of funk rock before dropping suddenly and totally into ambient land, relaxing and drowsy. Patton croons a kind of mission statement with the line "To my ears the greatest sin feels a bit like Beethoven." Dakka-dakka-dak! The snare brings the rock back, chunky and driving like a Faith No More song, but it doesn't last long because the funk returns with the opening Trevor Dunn bass riff, alternating cleverly with hand-clapping surf-guitar sections that will be greatly expanded upon in the future on another Mr. Bungle album, yet here come and go before the mind can even register what it has heard on a first, or even second listen. Right when the music seems to reach a climax there's a pause, a few seconds of video game music, then Chunka-Chunka-Chunka! The FNM-type chunky riff returns without warning. If this looks chaotic and nonsensical in print, in sound it either works wonderfully for you, or IS chaotic and nonsensical depending on your taste. Mr. Bungle's music does not appeal to casual listeners. It is radical, and as such usually inspires love or hatred. A scream like a hole torn in a pressurized vacuum chamber inaugurates a particularly noisy section, with Patton multi-tracking his voice into a demonic mob chorus shouting "my ears, my ears, my ears are ringing my ears, my ears, my ears are ringing?." Over an intense speed-picked Trey Spruance classical metal riff Patton sings in his newly acquired confident sneering rock voice ? "Wax within my ears has grown just like the snot inside my nose / My interpretation of distorted" ? here he contorts the word into one of the most unhinged, ragged, vocal-cord flapping screams in rock history - "conversatioooooooon!"

A split-second of silence, and the soft ambient returns, complete with lounge-jazz cymbal speed-ups and slow-downs. An utterly jarring explosion of rude, distorted yelling over a maximum volume bass and drums riff interrupts everything for a few seconds before the ambient returns and fades out?almost. Patton: "I'm gonna get a cup of coffee". Whump! Silence?then footsteps running away to open a distant door. A toilet lid opens and a man grunts with obvious pain, squeezing a turd out Plop! into the water. Col. Sanders' voice comes in, trying to do that commercial for extra crispy ("what kinda damn chicken?") we have all by now heard from those Al Kooper tapes with all the celebrity [%*!#] ups, and by now the listener has been served notice that this recording is, amongst many other things, a tour de force of pop culture references and gross humor. The man on the toilet keeps grunting painfully and the turds keep plopping in the water over the Colonels' sad, probably drunken attempts to advertise his own chicken: "Some folks call it chicka-maligna! Some folks call it call it, some folks call it, no wait?" The turds have turned liquid, pouring a steady runny stream into the bowl. The Colonel say's "I'm not getting anywhere with this damn thing!" A producer's voice say's "Ok, fine." A last gas surge blows out the anus. Patton sings solo: "I wanna - "

"Squeeze me Macaroni" charges in with not only one of Trevor Dunn's most infectious and incredible slap-funk bass grooves, but also Mike Patton's greatest rap rock performance. And the lyrics are all silly sick perverse food porn:

"lock Betty Crocker in the kitchen and knock her upper during supper / Clutter up her butter gutter / Hostess Ding-Dong wrapped an egg around my wong while Dolly Madison proceeded to ping my pong/ Your Milky Way is M-n-M in your britches and I'll tell you Baby Ruth, it looks mighty delicious / Keep blowin' my gum, cuz here I come, I'm gonna get you all sticky with my Bubble yum yeah!"

Trevor Dunn: Boom-be-doomp! Bibba-doomp be-boomp! "Knick Knack Paddywack! Give your dog a boner baby!"

The groove relents to a mysterioso keyboard wash. Patton sings through a CB radio-type distortion:

"Take a dump baby, squirt some gravy on me?" An over-driven, distorted roar: "Make it brown and runny!"

A metal micro- riff trades with percussive horns behind a stream of voices differentiated by rapidly changing vocal effects: "Give it a little Flavor Flav, back from the grave / Gonna burn some toast, pump some humpin' rump roast!"

The music becomes nearly unbearable rap-noise-rock for a couple measures before resolving into a super chunky metal riff with Pattons' "Oooh Oooh Aaiiiihhhhhs" ascending upwards into electronic whines and then ? dreamy psychedelic Motown Jazz-rock porno, played at a gentle volume. Patton croons in a sweet falsetto: "Squeeze me macaroni / slap your face with my baloney" for four strangely beautiful measures before the band blasts full throttle into one of the highlights of the album, an aggressive Trevor Dunn funk bass line mimicked and augmented by Patton's high-pitched staccato notes: "Dada dada doah di-di da-doah / dada dada dada doah di-di da-doah!"

The band burns through a ridiculously intense prog-funk-metal passage into rapid fire stop- start unison quadruplets, all of it delivered in 10 ? 15 seconds of statistical density at break- neck speed, leading dramatically back into the main groove:

"You gotta siphon the spinach, you gotta cream the corn / Sperm scrambles the eggs and a meal is born / Cookin' like a beginner but I'm goin' up in her / I had fritos for lunch I'm havin' bush for dinner / Chef Boyardee and the Three Musketeers shove Charleston Chews in their rears like queers / 'Holy Moly Guacamole!' said my Chips Ahoy/ I'm gonna pinch a ravioli in the Pillsbury dough! Boooooooy!" (ending with the Tall Man's final roaring word from the mirror on the first Phantasm movie) Catchy choruses of "We came to party!" fade out with the rest of the music as a crazed noise collage takes over, Patton hoarsely screaming "party!" like a drunken frat-boy through a miasma of conversational babblings and random horn blasts, Dennis Hopper weaving in and out with complaints about "warm [%*!#]ing beer's gonna make me puke!" Slowed down and sped up percussion effects reminiscent of Zappa roll us out into a deliriously horned-up Hopper reverie about "Tight [%*!#]in cheeks, O god, O yeah, man!"

Trey's clean guitar and a carnival barker shouting "Hurry! Hurry!" start the horn-driven ska tune "Carousel", a frequent number on demos, this time more produced and Circus-y than ever before. On an album infamous for having lyrics about perversion, madness, masturbation, murder, and suicide, the lyrics here can be taken as representative of the ethos and atmosphere of the entire effort. Patton paints the surface of it, alternating seamlessly between his nasally FNM voice and the macho basso that almost defines his approach on this album:

"A carnival for the human race / Cotton candy, happy face / A child talking with his mouth full / Girlfriend gets stuffed animal / A festive world is all around / Another world is what we've found / Step right let's make a deal / Let's ride on the Ferris wheel."

Now the Underside:

"You know there's something lurking underneath the shape with a mask over his head and makeup on his face / Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee / Take a look in the mirror and see the clown in yourself / If you want to know what's behind the show you ride my carousel, enter life's jail cell / Love and blood begin to meld, you've lost the self that you once held / Merry go round your head ? awake, asleep, alive, or dead!"

The meditation on clowns takes a surprising turn when they are revealed to be not merely villains or symbols of fun and / or evil, but anti-heroes!

"The clown that painted a smile on you / is now the one unmasking you!" The lyrical portion concludes with words for all to ponder:

"A roller coaster ride into the rivers of your mind / The currents merge, your feelings surge, your life's a pantomime / Beauty is the spiral going round and round the beast / Without the vampire effect the carnival is deceased."

Metal chords trade with a James Bond Spy / beach riff before descending full into the dream - "Welcome to my house!" ? Carousels spinning, prize winning ringing bells, and distressed cat meows. Stepping off the ride, Patton yells "I think I'm gonna be sick!" and emits heavily distorted Borg vomit. "Blah! Bluh! Blah! Bluh!" and the song trails off into a small orchestra of toy instruments playing the circus theme, an incredible ride through a sonic funhouse.

-Snippett of video game music, then-

Bum Bum! Power chords alternate with porno guitar. "Egg" roars in to take no prisoners. If you thought the rest was intense, hold on cuz the band is now warmed-up and ready to kick ass. A couple measures of funk rock underpins Patton's Alchemical proclamation (most probably written by Trey, whose interest in magic is well known) "Rotting from the inside over ? incubated by the heat of fear and love / the self's coagulated!"

"Egg!" the chorus sings, and it's off into a fast, irresistible ska groove with warbly-cartoony "Lla-la, Lla-la-la-la-la's!" Then a warning from Patton:

"Boiling hard in euphemism / Slowly becoming part of the water / Like a frog who never knows the jacuzzi's getting hotter! Lla-la, Lla-la-la-la-la!"

Here one of the great abrupt changes of the album occurs as the ska riff drops diagonally into psychedelic prog-jazz, with noisy techno-guitar screeching over a hypnotic, monster- stalking-prey bass and drum rhythm. Patton pulls out a gangster: "How'd you know I was lookin' at you if you weren't lookin' at me?" The section crescendos into a reprise of the opening guitar riff, but the opening is not repeated. The song goes into a knew riff, driving and insistent, with extremely violent sounding distorted vocals right up in the listeners' face, and it doesn't even matter what they are saying at this point, it's the effect that counts. The band launches into a drum pounding blast-beat, racing through a rhythmic contortion back into the ska groove with a transition that makes the head spin. And the "Lla-la-la's" are back, too, but not for long! In the kind of change that inspires many listeners to classify this music as RIO, the music drops off a cliff into silence punctuated by pure randomness: wavering horns, sticks falling, Patton going "Hey! Hey!" like a drunken man. Then Wham! The driving riff with the violent distorted vocals is back. Patton's voice goes from Hardcore yelling to hyper-roboto to death growling in the space of seconds. You still can't make out what is being said but it is, for some, worth knowing:

"The cracks finally appear / Release cholesterol tears / The flooded cyst drains itself of puss / The lonely stomach chills unless it's drunk / So as she drives she'll close her eyes / Feel it warming up inside!" Another high speed blast-beat, the music goes briefly backwards, some studio gimmickry fun, before returning to the main ska riff. Patton sings the eternal mystery:

"Oh an egg comes out of a chicken / O a chick comes out of an egg! / O an egg comes out of a chicken / O a chick comes out of an egg!"

Building to yet another climax the music abruptly goes to Hell with a chorus of ragged, piercing screams over dark descending power chords, squealing sax and horns conjuring the flames. This trails off into a slow bass and drum plod colored by clean ringing guitar chords and synth washes that could be construed as relaxing if not for the persistent minor key foreboding of the music, and Patton's building-to-a-climax meditation on the line "There's no place like home / There's no place like home." If some have made it this far into the album, this may be the place where they can't take it anymore. For fans it is one of the Great Moments, especially for the enjoyment of Patton's insane vocal artistry. With each passing measure, alternating with Zorn-style bites of chaotic noise, Patton makes the line more demented, running through a panoply of different voice characters, from the cartoony to the demonic, ending it with an Edith Bunker screeching-whine-come-drunk-Tony Clifton- lounge-vocal. The music falls apart into "don't believe I'd of done that" territory. "NO PLACE LIKE Ha-ha-ha!" screams in your face one more time, degenerating into laughter (cuz hey, this band may be bad-ass evil but they got a sense of humor and are cracking themselves up) then ? the Intermission.

Yes, an Intermission. At first you may not know that. Rather you will think 'what the hell happened?' It's a much talked about section amongst Bungle fans, a field-recording, supposedly captured by a 4-track strapped to a band members' back (Patton?) as they hop a moving box car. The foreshadowing of the train in the transition from "Travolta" (I mean Quote Unquote!) to "Slowly Growing Deaf" is now fulfilled. Here it lasts a few minutes, a long time for those not used to such a thing. It seems incongruous, out of nowhere, mostly just loud wind and clanking metal and a smattering of voices. In retrospect it is a logical and much welcome Intermission from all the mayhem. The ears need a moment to relax, to be wiped clean with silence before the second half of the assault comes. And it is coming! You will know you've reached it when you hear Patton ask "what's his problem?"

A mélange of sound effects brings us into the slow circus waltz of "Stubb (A Dub)". Patton sings in a dreamy falsetto:

"Do you remember we called you puppy? Now you're one of us, we call you family." The waltz builds in dissonance and tension. "Family" is repeated with mounting sarcastic vocal affectation. This can't be good, then ? Loony Tunes! A high speed blast beat of carnival music sweeps all from its path. Many listeners who have reached this point have never heard music do this before, and probably didn't know that it could. Trumpet notes emphasize the downbeat whilst keys and percussion augment the up, and the bass plays all of it! The combined effect is extreme cartoon thrash.

After a couple dense and precise measures it stops. Patton's voice floats warbly and indescribable amongst dissonant keyboard notes:

"Treading under foot and stinking ass / Hold the door aside and let her pass." A locked-brake tire screams burning rubber on asphalt before a collision. A demonic-thug chorus roars "Glaucoma!" The band is in trademark Bungle territory, a heavy bass and drum groove with stabbing, counterpoint synth notes. Patton sings in a heavily effected sneering Martian voice:

"Reflections of a bloated lie / A life stored in your cloudy eye / Now it's time to say goodbye / Stubb A Dub will never die!" More Carnival blasts beats.

"Chase a tail that isn't there / It's time to wipe your butt ? sliding down butt hill!"

A fast piano, bass, and drum excursion take us into yet another head spinning change with rapid fire alternating sax and snare-bass quadruplets, landing odd time in a piano-led mid- tempo ska groove. Patton sings in a clean, soaring, nasally tenor:

"Dahg Rastubfari -do you know? / That you're a [%*!#]ing dog? / And if you can hear me, then throw up / Give me a sign and I'll throw a stick bring it back roll over and die / You taught me a lesson ? thanks Mom!"

Ballroom piano plays brightly over a hyper delineated funk groove, almost disco. Patton raps the lyrics quickly and melodically:

"Do you understand me do you think about me when you're peeing? Do you really think your gonna grow into a human being?"

Grand orchestral circus jazz flows majestically over a sizzling drum patter. The music mounts in rhythmic piano-drum stabs.

"You're gonna die! How does it feel? Stubb!"

The song structure cycles back to the carnival blast beats, though each time something new is added to them. When the "do you know that you're a [%*!#]in' dog?" section returns, Patton adds a speaking track, reciting the words as sarcastic poetry along with the singing tracks. With a rolling snare flourish the song returns to the slow waltz used at the song's very beginning. Patton sings in his dreamy falsetto:

"Do you remember we called you family? / Now you're underground / We call you memory! Memory. Memory. Ahh memory?" trailing off in a cast of voices. A low bass note rumbles. Rolling cymbals mount tension. Someone is weeping and can't stop. It's Kyle McLachlan fresh from the closet-he-had-been-hiding-in scene from "Blue Velvet". Isabella Rossellini whispers "I want you to hurt me."

Percussive guitar chords chop the air. Trevor Dunn weaves bass notes around it. Patton bellows something indecipherable, a punk yell double-tracked with a death roar. A Trey Spruance triplet-based monster metal riff dances contrapuntal odd-time with sci-fi staccato keyboard stabs, creating a sound unlike any other. "My Ass is on Fire" is the 'heaviest' tune on the album, and remains a fan favorite, something Bungle recognized, and even sympathized with (a rare thing for them!) for they chose to keep playing it live up until the end of their career together, albeit in modified form. Descending metal chords give way to a low key, tension building porno groove, trumpets dancing light and airy above. Patton sneers: "Impotent / Boomerang / I'll stab you (in a gravelly purr ? I'll stab you)" The metal chords return in an aggressive staccato march alternating in halting stop-starts with dual sax lines. The tension is building. Something horrible is coming.

"Clumps of hair / In the sink / Who's hiding things from me?"

The music surges forward in a driving groove. Patton yells maniacally through a harsh, abrasive distortion:

"You knew all along - Goddamnit! But you wouldn't tell me, well look at you NAAAAOOOOOOOWW!"

The distorted yell becomes a claws-down-the-back chainsaw scream, one of the greatest in all of Rock, a real room clearer (an old girlfriend of mine actually DID leave the room with this scream, saying "it sounds like someone's being murdered!") A wall of distortion reverberates, ringing out to the edges of space. The chorus rides in on the backs of the Four Horsemen. Patton sings in his high nasally tenor:

"It's not funny my ass is on fire!"

Trey unleashes a fast, alternate-picked sci-fi surf guitar like Dick Dale on steroids over Trevor Dunn's propulsive, hurtling locomotive bass, leading the band into a lurching rhythmic contortion of slowed and sped-up triplets.

"Paraplegic inhuman liar!"

A tight, heavy Rush-like rave-up has Patton on the CB radio muttering something indecipherable. A rapid turntable 'wicka-wicka-wicka' brings the porno groove back, punched up, loud, and un-subtle.

"Carve a smile / On your face / Everything's great / Suffocate!"

We drop into the Underworld. Dark growth of menace. Tribal drums building in volume and insistence. Something horrible is coming again! Smattering of voices babbling. Words begin to take shape. "Fuck", and "Don't you [%*!#]ing look at me!" Hoarse and whispering turns gravelly then confrontational: "Don't you [%*!#]ing look at me!"As the music coalesces into another forward thrust, Patton goes for maximum abrasion, wailing a distorted Johnny Rotten on-the-verge-of-vomit voice.

"It's beyond my control / it's beyond my control / it's beyond my control ? I'm comiiiiiiiiiing!"

A micro-flourish of sax announces a new section of full out prog metal. Epic Trey Spruance power chords punctuate a martial, end-of-the-world riff over a swirling, circular, odd-time Trevor Dunn bass and Heifetz drum pattern (The band knows this is an awesome section. They played it unchanged in the otherwise altered version of the song during their "California" shows. The appreciative audience, well-schooled in the ways of Bungle by this time, always got their mosh on during it!) A speed romp under 'Emergency' sirens brings us to a reprise of the chorus. Patton reminds us his "Ass is on Fire!" But there's more in store. A slow building death growl takes us into sludge, a stumbling rhythm for zombies, monotonous and irritating. Patton builds the vocal collage from Hell out of his best impish, snotty punk voice:

"Redundant / Redundant / Redun ? Redundant! / Redundant / Redun -!"

As the sludge oozes forth and the zombie march drones on, Patton's vocals multiply into sheer cacophony. Grinding destruction of all things in one Unholy Din! Here the band gives the listener yet ANOTHER chance to bail. It's a test. Can you be a masochist for your sadistic favorite band? They will demand it of you. Mr. Bungle actually enjoys the chance to annoy and even horrify their audience, and relishes the opportunity to maybe drive you away! Many can't take it, and either skip to the next tune or take it off. Those who endure are rewarded with the brief but humorous segue into the next song. The chaos ends all at once. A lone voice say's "Excuse me, I am lost. Please help me." The Chinese / Vietnamese or I- don't-know-what interpretation follows. "Te bouche. Wo me la lu. Chimme pow pow" (or something to that effect. That's phonetic. I don't know Chinese so gimme a break!) Voices are talking. A woman is telling Mr. Bungle that 'Villem' is [%*!#]ing up his campaign by creating ads that are being laughed at, and that she could do a better job than "that turkey". Mr. Bungle, who is running for SOMETHING, responds that he never cared for Villem now that she mentions it, and that what she is saying is interesting. "In fact" he says "you are interesting."

Her: "Oh Mr. Bungle, I didn't know you were interested. And you will give me your account for my new agency?"

Mr. Bungle: "Later. We'll talk business later. First I want to make love to your beautiful, beautiful body!"

With an erotic sigh and the ensuing sounds of [%*!#]ing, "The Girls of Porn" comes in with obligatory 'Shaft'-style wah guitar. Patton in announcer mode say's:

"Ok all you puss sucking mother[%*!#]ers out there, it's time to win a chance to butt-bang your daughters' tight virgin cherry ass to caller 666!"

A metal riff becomes a smooth bass and sax porn groove. Patton brings us into his auto- erotic world:

"The urge is too much to take / All I can think about is playing with myself / It's time to masturbate / I got my Hustler and I don't need nothin' else."

The Chorus says it all:

"My hand gets tired and my dick gets sore! / But the girls of porn want more / So I flip through the pages one more time / And I just let the jism fly."

In a hyper macho roar comes "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" and the metal riff returns. As one can guess, this tune has indeed often been singled out for criticism, i.e. that it is juvenile and ridiculous and gross, etc. But if you've made it this far into the album the only danger you will face with this song is possibly being bored by it, for compared to the rest of the material it is rather un-adventurous. It IS slick, sonically speaking, and amusing to those who can appreciate the 70's porn references to Ginger Lynn, The Devil and Mrs. Jones, Aja &John Holmes. And there's more!

"We got gushing gonads, tingling tushes / Hairy balls and hairy bushes / S&M and whips and chains / Pregnant ladies with menstrual pains." In a deep double-tracked voice reminiscent of some of the vocals in Zappa's work, Patton continues to list the cornucopia of delicious perversions:

"We got girls who'll eat your pee and poo / guys who'd love to [%*!#] your shoe / There's she- males, lezbos, and shaved beav / And D-cup mamas with so much cleave / Senior citizens who love to watch / And sniff those skid marks from your crotch ? YEEAAAAAAH!"

-A snippet of a chick getting her brains [%*!#]ed out, saying "Oh Mr. Bungle!" - and "Yeah!

Yeah! Yeah!" the metal riff returns. "I'd buy that for a dollar!" a voice say's, referencing 'Robocop'. Patton mimics a squealing sax and the song ends with a bang. But wait. We are in an alley somewhere. It sounds like more of the 4-track recording used in the intermission. Where have we ended up? The sounds of conflict can be heard, some old man yelling: "Put me down boy!" It feels voyeuristic. "I'll kill ya!" the old man yells. "I'll kill ya boy!"

"Love is a Fist" breaks through with the chunkiest, most brutal metal riff on the album, yet it doesn't last, sliding into a propulsive, odd meter bass and drum pattern, laced percussively with sax. Patton sings in a deeply resonant basso.

"Clenched emotion / Round my ween / feel my heart beat - off and your head in!" Out of a dreamy yet disconcerting reverie the message is delivered, and it is a simple one. "I feel" Patton croons, "strongly ? about violence!" which becomes an utterly distorted, deep- in-the-throat, sneering punk yell. Zorn takes an uncredited yet obvious solo here, strangling his sax in that squeaky-screechy way that only he can. Propelled by a merciless metal riff the demonic-thug chorus crushes your skull beneath steel-toed boots:

"Love is a fist! Live is a fist! Love is a fist!"

A chorused sax section takes us to another verse:

"There's no effort / To what's in / Open faced - knuckle sandwich!"

Another dreamy section sets in and extends itself, cresting (or bottoming?) with an oblique Ike & Tina Turner reference ("what's love got to do with it?") The violence returns, yelling belligerent voices, and "DOOOSH!" The thug chorus returns, trailing off into slowing, staggering chords and more squealing saxophone murder.

"Is a / Fist Love / Is a / Fist Love / Is a"

Grainy-sounding 'educational' film music comes in through a black and white portal from a 1950's classroom. A slightly muffled yet friendly projector voice say's "Just before lunch one day a puppet show was held at school. It was fun to watch." It is, in fact, the Lunchroom Manners film the band took its name from. "Mr. Bungle goes to the Boy's room. His hands are dirty and his hair is messy, but he doesn't stop to wash his hands or comb his hair, he goes right to lunch." The Children laugh. Mr. Bungle doesn't wait in line, he goes right to the front. The announcer must set things right for us:

"Even though the children laughed, no one thought that was a fair thing to do. In the lunchroom, Mr. Bungle was so clumsy and impolite he knocked over everything, and no one wanted to sit next to him. And when he knocked over his own tray, that was the end of the puppet show. Phillip knew that even though Mr. Bungle was funny to watch, he wouldn't be much fun to eat with. He knew Mr. Bungle wouldn't have many friends. He wouldn't want to be like Mr. Bungle."

"Alleyowup!" Patton yells, or something to that effect. "Dead Goon" begins with synth and cymbal washes, noisily plucked strings, and strange backwards sound effects. The circus theme is played out to the end with an oompa oompa walking bass and guitar-on-the- upbeat ska groove. Patton comes in with pitch-tuned vocals, a demonic cartoon character:

"Nobler than Oedipus / Clairvoyant and toothless / Foreplay with no friends / Premature until the end."

The carnival noise builds and, with a snare drums announcement ? dakka da da-dak! ? the grooviest Trevor Dunn fusion bass rolls in, weaving around and beneath Trey's funk guitar and Heifetz' multi-tracked drums and timbales. The effect is light and airy like Latin American Jazz. Patton sings in a high, pretty falsetto:

"I've got a secret / Babbling senseless / No one will ever know / Kids can be so cruel / Smash the feeling / Suckle the sugar breast."

With a drum and key "da-da da da-da Woooooosh!" the music returns to circus mode. Patton croons in his hyper-macho basso, clowning it up with exaggerated inflections:

"Too happy ? A jerk beyond a smile / An asphyxiophile / I'm the Humper / Stop hitting me / Walking the plank, swallowing dirt / Johnny is just skin and juice and hair, a hero unaware / Tied in a knot beneath giggling / My own two hands tickling me."

What is it all about? The key is the word "asphyxiophile", meaning one who loves the sensation of asphyxiating, auto-erotic style.

And like so many stories we have heard about people who do this, this one doesn't turn out well (though even that is a matter of perspective!) Patton returns with the deep pitch-tuned vocals:

"Playing Solitaire / A rope and mommy's underwear / Hanging on, letting go / Dangling to and fro!" A desperate, full-throated "NNNOOOOOOOO!" sets the carousel of music spinning. An insistent siren-like rhythm emerges, guitar and synth notes playing the downbeat in unison. Trevor Dunn and Heifetz play a halting start-stop bass and drum counterpoint against it and through it, building in complexity to a jaw-dropping, stumbling-up-the- staircase fusion run that is simply indescribable in words. Patton shrieks from the top of his register and slides slowly to the bottom, letting it echo into the vast distance, resolving into an 'Exorcist'-type demon vocal:

"It can't happen! It can't happen!" Slowing down and dropping even further in pitch, descending: "It?can't?happen! It?.can't??.happen?.."

A rope creaks, swaying with the weight of the dangling body it holds. Ooooops! Keyboard notes reminiscent of Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant play sparse, Martian-like rhythmic patterns. Strange sounds and snippets of other melodies float by, drifting away. So relaxing after all that! Patton's voice echoes in and out: "Floating away / tingling / Fluid seeping / Family weeping / It feels so good / So bad / But please?don't tease me." A rumble grows, a rising vortex of sound. The cacophony crescendos to a peak then whisks away in silence.


Haunting elevator music wafts in, the ghost of a lost era: 1940's hotels on Sunset Strip; Victorian galas on a doomed ship. An accordion plays nostalgic schmaltz, beautiful and ghastly. This last minute, end-of-the-disc hallucinatory collage reveals itself, on repeated listenings, to be a brilliant exercise in transitions between disparate pieces of music. A string section reeking of mothballs becomes a shimmering shower of bells, twinkling. And it's over.

Over?with a blessed 30+ seconds at the beginning before the towering Himalayan power chords return to start the whole ride over again!

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Posted Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | Review Permalink

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