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Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante CD (album) cover


Mr. Bungle



4.01 | 217 ratings

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3 stars Volatile, aggressive, flighty, energetic, eclectic; like an instrumental Battle Royale in too crowded a studio. Or one of the zanier Canterbury bands joining the dark side on some very, very hard drugs?

A hard-hitting streak of thrashy, harsh and dirty metal might be as close to a common theme you can come on Disco Volante. But why even bother about finding that? So many different bits and pieces of sounds from all over are deconstructed, mangled, turned inside out, regurgitated and haphazardly pieced together that things tend to get a bit blurry after a while. And everything is fused at such a breakneck pace, with a furiously capricious kind of composition. A whirlwind of a vast array of different instruments makes it a fairly colourful and vibrant mess for much of the ride, which only further enhance the brooding menace and underlying dark energy that's always lurking beneath the surface.

While at times commanding, intent and direct in individual bits, the structure is more like a room of countless doors that have their own particular sounds and identity behind them and slam open and shut at irregular intervals. Anarcho-jazz breaks and wild flights of fancy meet diabolic funfair stuff. Sidetracks into warped whimsicality and quirky little melodies abound and a rich array of the most surprising effects and samples is simply everywhere, occasionally breaking down completely in a descent into noise. The genre and ethnic mash-up is further propelled by demented pastiches on as disparate things as lounge/elevator music, "twangy" 50s instrumental rock, old school suspense music it tango? From the utterly goofy to the deeply disturbing, the moods shift quickly and dramatically throughout the album. But there's a sheen of irreverence and dark humour on top of it all, perhaps excluding the more sombre and cerebral musique concrète excursions.

In agreement with other reviewers, to me there are three compositions that stand out as something extra special:

A darkly melodramatic and visceral soundtrack to a twisted avant soap-opera of horror and violence, with the sampled destruction of a home as a cheery backdrop. Truly sinister and called Violenza Domestica (there's a clue as to why it sounds nothing like a happy show tune).

The erratic and fractured minimalism of the semi-ambient The Bends, where twitching and flickering sound bits shine their subdued and ghostly light in a murky underwater soundscape. But that still leaves enough room for some understated jazz noodling along the way. Just for good measure.

And finally the rollercoaster industro-Krautronica with strong Middle Eastern vibes that is Desert Search For Allah, with perhaps the densest atmosphere on the album, with a mysteriously compelling, mirage-like vibe.

And throughout all of this, the vocals twist and turn in an absurd number of characterful and limitless ways - snarls, hisses, whispers, gargles, howls, "doodling" and a bit of actual singing now and then. Processed, distorted or just unfiltered, straight out of Patton, it's hardly ever what you'd expect a vocalist to do. On top of that, they're often wordless or sung in perfectly fluent gibberish. At times intense and intimate, like they are whispered right into your ears or disturbing voices inside your head, they are nevertheless quite a treat, especially for these ears, which have gotten used to Demetrio Stratos vocal acrobatics and contortionism.

But is it really enjoyable? To be honest, I'm a bit uncertain about how I feel about Disco Volante. It's fascinating, downright enthralling, and a hell of a ride. For all of that, it remains a curiosity. One to cherish from time to time, but hardly the stuff that makes a personal favourite.

But as a jolt of fresh energy into dulled-down and blasé senses, this is the medicine. And oddly charming at that.

3 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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