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Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante CD (album) cover


Mr. Bungle



4.01 | 217 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'm completely new for this kind of music. When I decided to get this, I was looking for something to introduce me to the RIO/Avant Garde genre that's part of the Archives. Recently I've been pointed out that this is not RIO but indeed just Avant/Garde Prog. Well, I really don't put that much attention into what music fits what genre-description exactly, but as I am new-comer to this style of music, I guess I have to accept the definition set by individuals that have listened to more examples of the genre. But I have to make myself clear: I'm writing a review from the perspective of a person who has never heard this kind of stuff before, so probably there will be "genre-calling" mistakes. Again, other people who have no idea what this band sounds like may find this review useful, but people with knowledge might find it as just a repetition of what they already know.

What you get in Mr. Bungle's DISCO VOLANTE is the weirdest music ever to grace my ears. I said grace, because, as I will point out later, it's ultimately fantastic. Consider this idea: picture a group of over-talented musicians who gathered together to record an album; picture them as absolute masters of their instruments and of the art of music; now picture them a little bit crazy. Now you have what Mr. Bungle is like: bizarre, weird, brilliant, inspired, rebellious. Yes, I think that word fits perfectly: they can't abide by the "rules" of music, they don't want their music to "fit" into any "genre". It's rebellious music. It's music that says "we, the band, don't give a fuck about what you think music should be; THIS is what we like to do. The music also shows confidence, a little bit of arrogance and "pretentiousness" (such a maligned word), because a musician has to be a little bit arrogant and pretentious to record such a law-breaking disc and actually believe is worth of attention or even further, of critical acclaim. And this one is. In DISCO VOLANTE you'll hear not only the sound of instruments being played but the sounds of glasses being broken, of things being "musicalized. You can't expect some regular songs with verse-chorus-verse-chorus structures, for here there are hardly any that have any resemblance of a blueprint or structural map. Also, please: if you start listening to a song in this cd, don't take for granted that the mood or style you're hearing in the first seconds will be the dominant in the song, because mostly every song contains at least 2, 3 or 4 different styles of music within its borders. So, when you have finished listening to DISCO VOLANTE, you will have traveled one of the most absurd, inspired paths in prog music.

Of course, a band of lesser musicians wouldn't be able to deliver a piece like this. If a group of mediocre-talented musicians were to record an album like this, it would just sound like chaos, anarchy, an insulting joke. But here we have some excellent ones: I don't know many of them, but Ill just say a word about each instrument: the bass player and the piano player are both masters of their domains; the organs and keys shown a skillful hand behind them; the drums let us know the man sitting at the throne know how to extract rhythm and groove of the woodset; and finally, Mike Patton, a master of the vocals, one of the best singers in all of rock, with his very deep yet elegant tone of voice, with his ability to switch from classy-arrogant-prick to young- chaotic-punk in the blink of an eye, he's really in another level.

A VERY brief word about the songs:

Everyone I Went To High School With Is Dead (6+/10), an ultra slow, sludging, distorted death-metal bore-fest, with fuzzy voices and exaggerated bass. But you know what? It's so obvious this track is like this on purpose that we are left wondering what lies ahead. We are not afraid, because it's not an atrocious song, but a deliberatedly atrocious song.

Chemical Marriage (9/10) From the start, when I heard this I remember I said out loud: "what the fuck is this marvel?" Some elegant-yet-ridiculous organ-keys play over groovy rhythms with such a sense of ingenuity. It sounds old, 70's like, but it also sound extremely modern. Fantastic.

Sleep (Part II): Carry Stress In The Jaw (9.5/10) This is incredible. A fast drum ride- cymbal rhythm in almost jazz style leads the way for some atmospheric keys in the background and Patton singing just a few words with incredible precision. Suddenly we are into full-fledged jazz territory with brass included, and then... grindcore!!! The song is an anthem for chaos and anarchy, an hymn to what could be accomplished when rules are cautiously broken and anarchy becomes order.There are even more sections, even a ridicule one in the middle with almost cuban-sounding percussion. And the vocals? Just noises here and there, accents here, ghost-like whispers there, Patton singing like an old man, the song going the 60's rock way. What is this, beach-band rock? The riffs are grungy, yet the atmosphere is light. I can't put this into words. Desert Search For Techno Allah (7/10) electronica-meets-nuthouse-meets-ambience- meets-arabic-music-and-whatever-else-you-can-think-of. Just picture the title of the track in your head, and you got the idea: lost in the desert, you decide to look for a TECHNO DEITY!! Incoherent. Entertaining. Not brilliant.

Violenza Domestica (10/10) descriptive yet comedic music. A parody of life. A joke about tragedy set to music. Patton "sings" in italian. Just some guitar noises, some effects, some actual noise of things getting broke, suddenly a piano and accordeon in almost tango style. Patton furiously mimicking a couple. Mimicking is the word, for this is, as absurd as it may sound, "visual singing". The mood gets darker, sludgier, then the accordion returns, and we are suddenly in the midst of a TANGO! The song ends. We stand up and applaud... but we don't applaud at a band of musicians, but a group of puppet masters from a small village in Italy. That's what this song sounds like.

After School Special (8/10) The song where Patton sings the most "normal". A sad tune about a child and his mother. It's depressing, ironic, twisted. And it WORKS. At the end the baby-noise are too much.

Sleep (Part III): Phlegmatics (8/10), a near-punk rhythm and heavy distorted vocals. But soon enough we're in a fume-filled atmosphere, a room full of smoke and crazy images, crazyness.

Ma Meeshka Mow Skowz (7/10), a weird song (- ?- among all this weirdness, really, what's the surprise?), a little jazzy, a little retro, almost urban at times, metallic at others. this is too weird even for this album. But it's not weird-bad. It's just weird. The Bends (10/10) Really, if I were to name a "song" in the album the absolute highlight, this would be it. It's just noise, effects, distorsion, pedals, feedback, all of them together used to illustrate a story, a scene that takes place in the water. Descriptive music, completely modern music, this guys learned a few lessons from masters of the 20th century. It's a testament to the real significance of "avant". 10 minutes of quiet whispers and soft piano notes and guitar strings plucked lightly. Art.

Backstrokin' (8/10) a psychodelic-retro number with cool organ and a section of almost elevator-music mundanity. After "the Bends", it works admirably.

Platypus (8/10) heavy guitar riffs, and suddenly an almost funky bass line (?!). Master Patton swings around the rhythm with style and arrogance. He doesn't have to sing neither loudly nor constantly. He just makes his presence felt, he leaves his mark. He conquers. Absurdly weird. Absurdly, it works.

Merry Go Bye Bye (12:58), the song starts in a totally ridicule beach-pop mode. We are in California in the 70's, but we're talking about suicide! (so long for the "pop" song). Abruptly, we hear distorsion. Then...near-grindcore-heavy death metal! Sludiging riffs, growling, "cookie-monster" noises, incredibly heavy riffs, we're in Dismember realm, in Entombed realm. The death fades away and we're in a dreamy landscape, some beautiful lines by Patton who demonstrates the meaning of the "best singer" definition in the dictionary (if there was one). The track goes on and on until it.. finishes. Not a better way of saying that. Just... ends.

My rating? Well, I'll be clear. This is not music I could be found listening to on a daily basis. We have to say that. This is not about beauty. Not about trying to give the listener a moment of pleasure. So, according to my usual set of parameters, this should get a low score. BUT... this is not any of those things because IT SHOULDN'T nor it seeks to. This is about impact. About shock. About dazzling with virtuosity and immediately dissapointing with insanity; this is about making you scream "they're masters!" and immediately yell "this bastards!"; this is about playing with your intellect, playing with YOU.

Maybe these songs couldn't stand a chance by themselves, alone. But together within this album, they amount, they add to the definition of a very good album. You have to have this.

So, just in the same mood of weirdness and absurdity, in this bizarro-world Mr. Bungle drove us into, we can do the unthinkable, and give this album 4 stars.

And remember: it's not about beauty. But, as all things are weird here, you will have a chance to find some beauty in here!. So masterful this guys are.

Recommended for: Fans of music that want to listen to an original, absurd, esplendid piece of awkward art. You want a shock? Come here please!

Not recommended for: People that only want to play it safe. People that can't stand comedic, erratic music. And, mostly, people with some wires ready to break within their heads....

... after this, you'll be taken promptly to the nuthouse.

Mr Bungle, rock from the sanitarium.

The T | 4/5 |


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