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Mr. Bungle

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Mr. Bungle California album cover
3.98 | 147 ratings | 24 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sweet Charity (5:05)
2. None of Them Knew They Were Robots (6:03)
3. Retrovertigo (4:59)
4. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (3:55)
5. Ars Moriendi (4:10)
6. Pink Cigarette (4:55)
7. Golem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy (3:34)
8. The Holy Filament (4:04)
9. Vanity Fair (2:58)
10. Goodbye Sober Day (4:29)

Total Time: 44:08

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Mike Patton / vocals
- Michael Peloquin / harmonica
- David Phillips / pedal steel
- William Winant / drums, tympani
- Bill Banovetz / horn
- Sam D. Bass / cello
- Carla Kihlstedt / violin, viola
- Eyvind Kang / violin, viola
- Marika Hughes / cello
- Henri Duscharme / accordion
- Timb Harris / trumpet
- Larry Ragent / horn, French horn
- Aaron Seeman / piano
- Jay Steebley / cymbalom
- Ben Barnes / violin, viola

Releases information

CD Warner Brothers 47447 (1999)

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Mr. Bungle (180 Gram Vinyl)Mr. Bungle (180 Gram Vinyl)
Plain 2009
Vinyl$17.30
$150.00 (used)
Disco VolanteDisco Volante
Warner Bros / Wea 1995
Audio CD$5.95
$0.46 (used)
CaliforniaCalifornia
Warner Bros / Wea 1999
Audio CD$5.02
$1.00 (used)
CaliforniaCalifornia
Import
Imports 2014
Vinyl$20.84
$16.99 (used)
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MR. BUNGLE California ratings distribution


3.98
(147 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
41%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
34%
Good, but non-essential (16%)
16%
Collectors/fans only (7%)
7%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

MR. BUNGLE California reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Prog? No. Great music? Yes. Over the years, I heard so many critics lauding bands for blending styles in a timid, predictable way. "Wow, listen to these guys blending Irish and African music!" or "What brilliant visionaries adding electronic beats to Gregorian Chant!"... None of it seemed like much of a stretch, nor did it seem original. Then I heard this album. Even Zappa didn't take it to this extreme. It makes me sad that there won't be any more Mr. Bungle, by all reports. I went back to the first two albums, but they just didn't have the same impact. If I had heard "Disco Volante" first, I'm sure I would've liked it a lot. However, I think this one takes the same ideas and fine tunes them in a more succinct way. It would be 5 stars except for a couple of missteps here and there.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#31107) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars By the time this album was issued, I was not really paying much attention t Bungle anymore!!! So I only discovered some 18 months ago that his bum even existed; And I did not exactly rush out to get an ear on it, I just waited for it to get on the library shelves. However, I find this album a little easier to get into it is more sited for repeated listenings, not that I would play this album even every third semester. May seem harsh words but really, they come from the heart. Actually , I consider recommending this album to prospective progheads wishing to investigate Monsieur Bungle. Mostly because it is the most accessible of their records but also the least aggressive and the least derivative . In this album, Patten and friends seem to explore (a bit) world music influences ranging from Hawaiian to Arab hints , even touching over the twangy guitar sounds of early 60's surf music on a couple occasions (and also some Doo-Wop music if you can believe that!!!). But as I just a said the influences are better assimilated.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#31110) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Review by chamberry
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In California you can see that the band has mellowed down a bit after there superb avant-garde masterpice from 1995, Disco Volante.

This album is much less crazy than there previous efforts so this means that this a very accesible and a great album nonetheless. They have definately matured by the end of the album but they still use some weird sound effects in the songs but more sparsely than in there debut. One can also see a variety of influences and different types of music from twist to surf rock to ethnic music and so on but one of the biggest changes in there music is that in this album they're more restrained than in Disco Volante staying with 1 or 2 genres in one song instead of mixing alot of them like in their previous albums so is kind of a tamed beast. It's also more melodic than their previous albums. Highlights are: Golem 3, Sweet Charity, Goodbye Sober Day and Ars Morendi.

I can easily recommend this album to eveyone who likes music since it's a very accesible album concidering this is Mr. Bungle we're talking about. This is a very fun and enjoyable album the same goes for any of their releases. I find California to be better than their debut, but still if you want to know what Mr. Bungle really is then check out Disco Volante.

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Send comments to chamberry (BETA) | Report this review (#70240) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Review by bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars This album is ... well it's ... just what the heck is this anyway? Let's say an insane bioengineer crossed DNA with They Might Be Giants, Reverend Horton Heat, Frank Zappa, any given metal band, and threw in some other random elements. This might explain how this band got together. Then again, it may not. All I know is that it's great fun, and I love it.

These guys blend styles seemingly at a whim. However, that can't be the case, because it works so well. There is a definite sense of humor, but this band takes its music seriously (see Frank Zappa). Whether it is doo-wop, rockabilly, or metal crunch, it is all done with care. You will most likely find all of this in the same song too.

Need a diversion from the grandeur of your latest prog opus? This could very well be what you are looking for. You will still be comfortably close to your old standbys so don't worry about losing any progressive cred. I highly recommend this to everyone. It's not pure prog, but enough to get it four stars.

H.T. Riekels

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Send comments to bhikkhu (BETA) | Report this review (#88288) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 27, 2006

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Mr. Bungle's third and final studio album would be their most restrained, and ultimately most accessible release. The insanity of Disco Volante is now replaced with melodic, catchy, and ultimately fun music that takes cues from surf rock, bubble gum pop, and light jazz. However, there's still some bits and pieces of insanity here and there, they are just spread apart more and they aren't nearly as crazy as previous albums. Despite that, California remains a great last effort from the group, although it doesn't reach the greatness of the previous two albums.

Favorites of mine on this album are the first piece, Sweet Charity, which takes many cues from surf rock and pop of the 60s with lush vocals and a twangy guitar sound that is more addictive than anything else. In fact, most of the songs on this album are in this vein, although you'll find bits and pieces of other drastically different styles here to counteract this one. Other favorites are Pink Cigarette (which makes nods to Ennio Morricone and to a lesser extent John Zorn's nods to Ennio Morricone), and the incomparable None of Them Knew they were Robots, which explores 60s sci-fi soundtrack music with surf rock and quasi-doo wop. Whatever it is, the first two songs on the album are ultimately my favorite pieces, although every song has a magic to it.

In the end, I can't really say that this is the best or most representative Mr. Bungle album. However, it's their lightest most accessible, which may make it a good starting point. Saying that, if you do get this album first, don't expect this to be anything similar to the previous two albums, those albums are much much much more out there and are a lot more experimental than this album. California is a good album, but I'd say it's my least favorite in the Bungle catalog (although I still really enjoy it).

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#110576) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, February 03, 2007

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I think I know why these guys broke up after 2000 and only three formal studio albums. They must have run out of any interesting musical styles known to humanity to incorporate into their music. Some tunes have a fairly consistent style throughout, but most put you on a bit of a roller coaster ride of musical style. Some styles are not even necessarily progressive except for the simple fact of the quality musicianship and just the audacity of the mixture. Just on the strength with which this one hooked me, I had to put in an order for the other two, sound unseen.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#128042) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Review by FruMp
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An interesting concept but still MR. BUNGLE's weakest effort.

California (which was to be called Californication but after a long running feud with the Red Hot Chili Peppers they allegedly stole the name) shows a very tame Bungle, reminiscent of 60's surf rock and beach boys type music, it's very stylish and done very well (Guitarist Trey Spruance spent a year mastering it on analog tape) it does convey images of sipping cocktails on a beach but on the whole it isn't nearly as good as the other 2 bungle full lengths and doesn't contain enough good songs to make it a great album.

That said the album does contain some very good songs, None of them knew they were robots is a fantastic song, reminiscent of Dick Dale and showing flashes of Bungles experimental side as well. Air conditioned nightmare is another fantastic song showing some beach boys moments and featuring an amazing chorus with some great tremolo picked surf guitar. 'Ars Moriendi' is the best song on the album, and is something of a throwback to 'Desert search for techno Allah' from their previous album Disco Volante, it features the same middle eastern theme with elements of techno and middle eastern instrumentation, a fantastic song and as I said before easily the best on the album.

The instrumentation on this album is fairly bland for a Bungle album but guitarist Trey Spruance provides some amazing moments with his surf guitar and general versatility and originality, the miscellaneous studio musicians provide most of the other highlights and considering how many of them there are it's something of a shame that they are so under-utilized.

Overall California is a decent and worthwhile album with a handful of great songs worth 3.5 stars (rounded down) but it's a big letdown (or should I say comedown?) compared to the schizophrenic madness of MR. BUNGLES other 2 albums and a lot of the songs are fairly boring and lacklustre. I'd recommend this to anyone who finds early Bungle a bit intimidating and impenetrable, or even anyone into 60's music and surf rock - otherwise I'd say it's better off sticking to Bungle's earlier works.

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Posted Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Review by horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I know some people have tried to figure out what influences one can hear in listening to this album or any of the other two Mr. Bungle albums, but I think it'll take a team of nuclear engineers (or a team of several dozen music fanatics) several years to figure that out. Yes, this is probably the most accessible album of the three, but it's still a very good album. It's still chock full of various types of influences, from Zappa to avant-garde to metal, and this album seems to be more focused on vocals than the other 2. It still has the "carnival gone completely insane" fell to it, but to me it lacks some of the punch from...something. It just doesn't feel quite as energized as it has in past with other Mr. Bungle albums. However, for someone new to the group who isn't used to a whole lot of zaniness in their music, this is a good place to start, as it's the most accessible Bungle album. A very solid and tightly composed, but for me it lacks some of the punch that's found in Disco Volante. 4 stars.

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Send comments to horsewithteeth11 (BETA) | Report this review (#188728) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 10, 2008

Review by MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is such an enjoyable album. If you're in a bad mood, try not smiling at some of these! That is, of course, if you enjoy listening to music that would make you appear insane to most people.

1. Sweet Charity- Wonderful atmosphere here with a very demented surf-relaxing feel to it. I really like the opening, particularly when the vocals and keyboards kick in. Patton's accentuated bah-bum vocals also set the ironic, humorous tone to this song. SWEET CHAAAAARIIITYY! Great song. 8/10

2. None of Them Knew They Were Robots- Haunting opening, then breaking into another odd song (But what do you expect from these guys?). This is another really good one and I like the twisted dance feel to it. It again has elements of several genres, including surf, dance, and others turned upside down to create something new and enjoyable. The keyboards here almost remind me of a ghostly type. 9/10

3. Retrovertigo- Ballad in the terms of Patton and the crew. It's a pretty good song, and has more of the bizarre, haunting ironic mood to it. I can feel quite a bit of emotions in this song as well, and the vocals are interesting despite being sung somewhat more conventionally. Patton's vocal noises in this one are absolutely fitting and set an intriguing tone. 8/10

4. The Air Conditioned Nightmare- My favorite track. This song is simply so awesome, from the beginning to end. The vocals range from soulful to downright bizarre, and the mood drastically shifts several times throughout this one. This really conveys the atmosphere of a nightmare and I absolutely love the way this song is structured, the uniqueness it brings with influences of many genres, and it succinctly shows you what this band is all about. And, of course, the lyrics have the word suicide in them. 10/10

5. Ars Moriendi- The art of dieing. Yeah, I can definitely see that. From the bizarre Middle-Eastern intro, this song certainly is a strange one. There's nothing wrong with it, but it is one of my least favorites on the entire album. Typical genius Bungle uniqueness and the songwriting is good. 6/10

6. Pink Cigarette- This is a funny one and quite enjoyable at that. More of a slower track here, this has a demented ballad feel to it, except it's not all that similar to Retrovertigo. It almost has a desert feel (similar to last track) combined with an extremely odd piano-driven pop song in Bungle style. I find this song incredibly difficult to describe. Nonetheless, it's enjoyable and interesting. The female-esque vocals in it are very odd. 8/10

7. Golem II: The Bionic Vapour Boy- This one is one of my favorites. From the opening robot-like toy windup all throughout, this track is more upbeat and has a robotic feel to it. Heavily enjoyable and crafted pretty well! 9/10

8. The Holy Filament- Awesome song once again. This is quite a spooky song, and the piano parts are beautiful. The vocals are ghost-like and are hard to describe. 8/10

9. Vanity Fair- The most hilarious track on here. The whole track comes across as entirely satiric. Patton's vocal noises again here are PERFECT and the mood of this song perfectly fits the concept of it. 9/10

10. Goodbye Sober Day- A very fantastic closer to this album. GOODBYE SOBER DAY! I love the instrumentation on this one especially and the mood changes are intriguing and enjoyable. 9/10

Overall, I hesitate between 4 and 5 stars for this one. In the end, 4 is more fitting, as it is not really an essential masterpiece of progressive music that is for everyone, but it is definitely an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Heavily weird and enjoyable, especially if you're in the mood for it!

Only for the open-minded and insane.

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Send comments to MovingPictures07 (BETA) | Report this review (#189679) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 17, 2008

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 7/10

"California" is one of the funnest albums in a long time.

if there's an adjective that can perfectly describes this album, that would be FUN. Because that's what it is, and what it was meant for, having fun. Mike Patton's third effort with his band Mr. Bungle is very different from all the other previous albums. it's a lot more melodic, and less weird than Disco Volante and the debut. For some this might have been a bad thing, in fact this album isn't too loved, but I think this change of theirs was excellent. So, all the Mr. Bungle albums are different from each other. "California" is a very nostalgic piece of work musically, but it's also an incredibly fresh and original album, and has such an unusual sound, even though, like I said, it's the least experimental album of the band.

Many influences are noticeable: surf music, metal, big band, bluegrass, blues, jazz, avant garde, and some arabic music, but much less than the amount in their previous effort. Mike Patton's distinctive way of singing is indeed in evidence, since he sings many of the songs (he didn't sing That much in "Disco Volante"). As a consequence to all this, "California" might just be Mr. Bungle's most accessible album, so it is pretty much for anyone. some songs are really amazing, they really crab you in a way that the band never really did in this type of way, using melody mixed with some experimentation and avant garde. Honorable mentions are the first track, "Sweet Charity", very nostalgic and melancholic, "The Air Conditioned Nightmare", especially in the middle part, where their external influences are most highlighted."Ars Moriendi", the heaviest song of the album, and has some arabic music influences; in fact, this track can easily be an excerpt from "Disco Volante". Not to forget "The Holy Filament", the most fascinating song off this album. Mysterious and calm in some moments, while in others it's more enlivened. But the medloy, especially in the singed part, always grabs my attention.

Such a fun and fine album overall, I recommend it to whoever likes to have a blast only by listening to music.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#284025) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review by Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Saving the best till last...

The third and final outing from perhaps the most unusual band to ever be signed to a major record label.

The Good: Four years after Disco Volante the vocal maverick and his experimental collective return with their finest work to date. Whilst the craziness is still there, the song writing is more refined, structured, and ultimately, enjoyable. Despite California's avant tenancies, the overall effect is strangely accessible. This juxtaposition continues further as the quirky, yet aptly named songs seem somewhat at odds with the world's most generic album title.

The menagerie of styles on show would probably just sound like a forced attempt at eclecticism in the hands of a lesser band, but Mr Bungle manage to integrate each musical approach so seemlessly that it's feels like they're conjuring up a unique yet familiar soundscape with every twist and turn. Picking a standout track is a near impossible task as this album is just overflowing with character, but the face-melting breakdown of Goodbye Sober Day edges it for me.

The Bad: Too short, if anything.

The Verdict: Brilliantly weird and weirdly brilliant.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#511099) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars California combines the comparatively conventional song structures and occasional mainstream leanings of Mr. Bungle's self-titled debut album with the bizarre laundry list of musical genres brought to bear on Disco Volante (and the two Secret Chiefs 3 albums which had been released in the meantime) in order to craft this delicious conclusion to the Mr. Bungle three-course meal. Songs like Sweet Charity and Retrovertigo lean towards smooth, slick lounge rock, but just when you think you're safe an avant-garde tidal wave like The Air- Conditioned Nightmare surges forth. Perhaps their least metal-focused album, California is still a good listen for anyone interested in a genuinely avant-garde conception of rock music.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#636347) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Going Out with a Raised Eyebrow and Big Clown Feet

Mr. Bungle was simply the most important progressive rock band of the 90's. Despite a solid group of direct descendents and innumerable artists that have drawn from Bungle's genre-bending, no one has matched their colossal achievement. CALIFORNIA was the final installment in a trilogy of completely different but simultaneously brilliant albums. Gone is the potty mouth of the debut. Absent is the complete avant-garde aesthetic of DISCO VOLANTE. Instead, we get a more mature and accessible album of (gasp) - songs!!!

While lead singer Mike Patton does not have the prettiest voice in rock, he may have the most versatile instrument of all time. And never is he more melodic than on CALIFORNIA. The bombastic opener "Sweet Charity" has a hummable chorus along with vocal percussion accents. Show music, surf guitars, and even klezmer ideas infuse the album and push the metal of previous albums a bit to the side. As a result, this is the "lightest" of the Bungle albums. Rest assured, there are still sections of pure chaos. "None of Them Knew They Were Robots" takes us from a peyote trip in the desert to a night club in Vegas to the Cantina on Tatooine within the space of 30 seconds. Though there are very heavy parts, most of the song is free of guitar distortion. The closer "Goodbye Sober Day" is one of the best pure music tracks I've ever heard. It literally has almost everything. If some asked me "what song do you wish you had written" I would either say "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" or "Goodbye Sober Day." It's that good.

The extreme eclecticism of this album makes it yet another shock to those who came to Bungle from the metal route via Faith No More. Most casual fans would have jumped ship after DISCO VOLANTE, but even this silly fanboy took awhile to really get into this album. The theatrics and non-rock ethic take awhile. I could also see some coming a jazz / avant angle feeling that sections are simply too "straight." Listening to the full album would destroy that notion, but again this album deceptively listener-friendly in relationship to the band's larger body of work.

I've written more extensively on Bungle in my other two reviews, but the bottom line is that all 3 are essential to understanding the progression of metal and experimental music in general in the 90's. 5/5.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#640252) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 24, 2012

Latest members reviews

5 stars After listening to this album for 5 years, I can safely say that it most definitely a masterpiece of experimental/progressive rock. It took me a year to fully appreciate as when I first listened to this, I was a huge metalhead. But something about Mr Bungle clicked with me, and I definitely fe ... (read more)

Report this review (#719519) | Posted by rustytheginge | Monday, April 09, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Mr Bungle: Prog? No; progressive? a most emphatic yes. Whilst not as boundary breaking and sonically experimental as their 2nd release, 'Disco Volante', 'California' stands out as an incredibly solid piece of work that draws inspiration from many sources. It would be easy to dismiss this album bas ... (read more)

Report this review (#191594) | Posted by Paul T | Wednesday, December 03, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars There's only a few albums that always works; whatever mood you're in. This is one of those albums. The unquestionable joy it expresses when you uplifted. And the wierdness and variety of feelings, when you feel blue. The album kicks of with seaguls and the flowing of water which is Sweet Char ... (read more)

Report this review (#171145) | Posted by meetmehere | Friday, May 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Where's my halo? There's my halo! There are some albums that are a blast to listen to. This is one of them. There is no need to focus on the intricate details of any meaning of this album because knowing the track record of Mr. Bungle, there probably isn't one. This is a delightful compilation ... (read more)

Report this review (#162082) | Posted by moreitsythanyou | Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Mr. Bungle are even more insane, over-the-top, hilarious, and crude than most of the any earlier RIO or Avant-garde groups. This, however, is not as crude as their previous two releases. The band, known for flowing from countless styles of music within mere 5 minute songs, have eased up on the gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#132112) | Posted by Shakespeare | Monday, August 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#41500) | Posted by | Thursday, August 04, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4 1/2 stars here. Mr Bungle is the most creative band I ever heard. These guys are simply genious. On this album, you can heat them mixing some african music with heavy disto guitar riff, or enjoy a pretty interlude to the beach before to get into a catchy and very interesting refrain. You can ... (read more)

Report this review (#31109) | Posted by | Thursday, April 07, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The most acessible Mr. Bungle album out there. This is not to say that it is a bunch of songs that don't change after a minute or two; it's just not a random and sparatic as "Disco Volante." This album also begins with a beach/surf song. It's very nice for a opener, and the album gets even bet ... (read more)

Report this review (#31106) | Posted by Spanky | Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first Mr. Bungle song ever permitted to infect my frontal lobes was Ars Moriendi. From the first hearing, I was both shocked and overjoyed that any band could be so irreverent towards the conventions of contemporary music and, at the same time, demonstrate such panache. No-one since Zapp ... (read more)

Report this review (#31105) | Posted by | Friday, October 01, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not knowing what to expect after the enormous mind**** of Disco Volante, I picked this up and took to it immediately. This incarnation of Patton and company once again mash several styles together, though the overall feel is more laid back than the earlier Bungle stuff. Personal favorites incl ... (read more)

Report this review (#31104) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A little different to what Mike Patton & friends did before. First there was the funk & rock influenced "Mr Bungle", afterwards that there was Disco Volante, the chaotic and exceptionally hard-to-listen-to album (if you're a psycho yourself) and then there is this one: California. This las ... (read more)

Report this review (#31103) | Posted by | Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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