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

MR. BUNGLE

Mr. Bungle

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.02 | 177 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars Very few albums have had life changing impacts on me, hitting me at a pivotal point in my life and actually succeeded in blowing my mind upon first listen, but Eureka, CA produced one of the craziest, most bizarre and schizoid bands ever to exist. MR BUNGLE has gained a cult status since this self-titled debut sprang itself onto an unsuspecting public back in 1991 but at the time, there was absolutely NOTHING that existed that was this spastic and bonkers and spun the circle of musical genres like Vanna spinning letters on Wheel of Fortune.

While the band had its origins all the way back in the 80s and started out as a death metal band, somewhere along they line they adopted a funk metal approach as the canvas to paint their surrealistic visions upon. Infused with a DIY punk ethos, MR BUNGLE sprang from nowhere and pummeled the music world with the craziest mix of punk, funk, heavy metal, jazz, ska and even circus music all shaken n' stirred in a big steaming cauldron of avant-garde. I, personally as well as the rest of the world at large for that matter, would never be the same.

For those only familiar with Mike Patton in Faith No More, it must've come as a real shock upon hearing the debut MR BUNGLE album. For anyone expecting a similarly styled mix of melodic keyboard infused alternative metal, expectations were quickly shot down by Patton's true restless and creative nature. Ironically it was Patton's huge success with Faith No More that allowed the BUNGLE project to evolve out of the obscure underground stage to the big budget extravaganza that appeared on a huge record label like Warner Bros.

The BUNGLERS were a sextet which at this stage consisted of Mike Patton "Vlac Drac" (vocals), Trey Spruance "Scummy" (guitar), Theobald Brooks Lengyel (alto & baritone saxes), Clinton McKinnon "Bär" (tenor sax), Trevor Dunn (bass) and Danny Heifetz (drums). In addition to the main team was David Shea who provided renegade turntables, several backing vocalists and even a cameo with Patton's idol John Zorn who provided an sizzling psychotic sax solo on "Love Is A Fist." The album was a frenetic free for all yet crafted some of the catchiest melodies to reel you in before it took you on a wild roller coaster ride.

The album pulls no punches. The very first track "Quote Unquote" (originally titled "Travolta" but changed for legal reasons) smacks you in the face with a demented keyboard leading the way as Patton provides the role as the carnival barker with his twisted surreal lyrics about whatever came to mind. The groove ties it all together as the track shape shifts into psychedelia, heavy metal bombast and back to the original psycho-circus music that begins it. "Slowly Growing Deaf" gets even more wild and crazy and displays the band's love of hairpin musical twists that allow frenetic Fishbone styled funk metal to immediately turn into molasses slow space rock and then bombastic alternative metal heft. The part where the song falls into a deep space rock trance and is punctuated by a few seconds of heavy metal bombast is startling and hilarious!

"Squeeze Me Macaroni" not only wins for the most twisted nursery rhyme funk metal tune of all time but also displays Patton's ability to rap and roll on steroids like no one else in the rock world. The lyrics are goofy and as ridiculous as one could possibly imagine all backed up an incredible rhythm section and tons of sound effects to provide the proper cartoon effect. "Carousel" is the best example of circus metal i've ever heard with a hopping circus groove and a sizzling swing jazz section that adds some metal guitar heft and a demented clown feel and the track that most adequately represents the album cover by Dan Sweetman which is a character published in a DC Comics story called "A Cotton Candy Autopsy." Oh i forgot to mention the random bouts of surf rock!

"Egg" is a bass driven funk metal phenomena that tackles the eternal question of which came first: the chicken or the egg? Fortified with lots of funky grooves, a series of la-la-la's and horse truths of life decorated in humor, the funk sections are periodically interrupted by strange progressive outbursts of psychedelic rock, avant-garde angularities and ends with a lengthy mishmash of references to the Wizard of Oz with Patton shouting "There's No Place Like Home" which alternates with a number of avant-garde silliness. The perfect example of an album where juvenile potty mouth snot-nosed brat antics fuse perfectly with top-notch professional progressive rock technical musicianship. If one thing is clear at the half point of the album is that if you're not laughing your ass off, then you clearly lack the proper mental tools to appreciate this whacked out masterpiece!

"Stubb (A Dub)" is no less frenetic but is a much more serious affair displaying the bipolar nature of the album. It laments the loss of Patton's childhood pet while also showcasing some bizarre virtuosic Frank Zappa inspired avant-prog workouts. "My Ass Is On Fire" is an angular jittery punk infused metal track that alternates with a TV theme song type of funk groove. "The Girls Of Porn" jumps into the world of smut and begins with a snippet of a 1950s puppet show about MR BUNGLE, from which the band adopted its name. It's starts as a pure funk track but later adds elements of metal and of course plenty of samples from porno flicks! "Love Is A Fist" is the heaviest metal piece on board with frenetic guitar driven fury but never loses the funk connection with the rest of the tracks as it also has slower spaced out echoey parts. John Zorn joins in for a spectacular mind-blowing sax workout that is scary enough to exorcise demons!

Perhaps the strangest track on the whole album (and THAT's saying a lot!) is the finale "Dead Goon." This track is like hearing music from another dimension. It's absolutely so outside the box that there is really nothing to compare to. Not only on this album but anywhere really. It starts off in a noisy haze but then adopts a carnivalesque groove that offers strange twisted counterpoints to the bass groove. Patton's delivers weird gnarled vocals and the build ups drift off into avant-garde jazz turf with a soulful vocal performance. It's not that it's not wonderful catchy as hell but extremely unorthodox in how the parts are put together. Somehow despite all odds it works. And that's pretty much the same for the entire album really and as the album ends and then floats around through different disparate soundscapes, it leaves you wondering what the hell you just heard.

This album still blows me away as much as it did the first time. It's the kind of album that totally catches you off guard while it seduces you and then if you haven't run away scared to mommy, it continues to deliver different aspects of its true nature. The questions immediately arise. Were these guys aliens? Possessed by demons? On some really weird drugs? Who knows but one thing is clear. The guys in MR BUNGLE succeeded in creating a ridiculously technical progressive rock and metal masterpiece that was guaranteed to offend everyone's sensibilities as its goal was to deconstruct all the orthodoxies and programming and shatter all preconceptions. It certainly worked for my young impressionable mind and now decades after it's release, it still blows me away except on an artistic level. Quite possibly the weirdest album in existence and the fact that MR BUNGLE pulled it off so amazingly well is simply a miracle. The true 21st century schizoid men have stood up!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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