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


Mr. Bungle



4.05 | 208 ratings

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5 stars An album cover that is so perfect for preparing the listener for what they're about to hear--but in no way preparatory for the incredible virtuosity of the musicians and composers contained within.

1. "Quote Unquote" (6:56) opens with recording of a dude snoring! Then, after 30 seconds, we are blasted into wakedness by a wave of rock instrumentations. The song settles into a cabaret noir/carnival-esque motif over which singer Mike Patton sings in a crazed, pitch-bending voice halfway between Joe Jackson and Andy Partridge. Genius! The addition of background vocalist Robert Bornum's deep baritone is perfect--leading to a punch-in-the-face chorus--is perfect! Quite the complement! Several other motifs--each very disparate from the carnivalesque one--enter and exit, quickly, giving this an even more feel as if I'm walking through a horror-fun house. What a journey! Like the Cardiacs with a sense of humor! I love it! In the end, the dreamer, I think, is finally awakened. (15/15) 2. "Slowly Growing Deaf" (6:59) slow floating synth wash chords over which singer is singing in a crooner GINO VANELLI-type voice--for the first minute. Then the band breaks into another rock cabaret-like motif and the voice changes theatrically to match. Talk about Multiple personalities--and personality! I don't think I've encountered this kind of adventurous spirit since discovering LES NEGRESSES VERTES (in 1989) and HUMBLE GRUMBLE (2011). Round and round the band and singer take us on a merry-go-round of moods and emotions. Wow! Punctuated by a finish in which a man runs to a sink and proceeds to throw up for over 30 seconds while a radio voice eggs him on! (14/15)

3. "Squeeze Me Macaroni" (5:38) bass, percussion, fast rhythm guitar support this PRIMUS-like fast-spewed hyper-theatric vocal performance. (Now I can see where black midi's Greep gets some of his vocal stylings.) Making the mundanities of life seem so ludicrous and celebrating it full force! What a performer! What a band! Not quite sure what the song is about, though it feels as if I'm witness to an unchaperoned high school or college party. (9.5/10)

4. "Carousel" (5:13) Trey Spruance's Django-like rhythm guitar opens the song play a few rounds through a fast moving chord sequence before the rest of the band bursts in to launch into a loosely tense pyschedelic thriller. Again, HUMBLE GRUMBLE comes to mind--though later heavy and surf-music riffs again make this music so challenging to--and the psychedelia side of things reminds me of several of the KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD albums. (8.75/10)

5. "Egg" (10:38) sounds like a band taking David Byrne's early Talking Heads sound several steps further--using virtuoso musicians and composers to do so--plus, let me not forget to extoll the incredible production here: amazing clarity to all/every instrument. There are even Adrian Belew- and Worrell-like flourishes here and there--as well as the LES NEGRESSE VERTES-like craziness. Amazing stuff! Amazing theater and entertainment! And to think that six-plus guys are all on board with this, able to stay on the same page with each other. Astonishing! Even the tech metal/prog metal worlds have little to offer to compare/compete with this! Even with the three minutes of train ride banter among the band members at the end, this is so well produced and performed that I find it hard to find fault with any of this! Were it not for the existence of Seal's "Crazy" (and all of its many versions), this would be my favorite song from 1991. So much fun! (20/20)

6. "Stubb" (7:19) more carnival music to open this, even moving into a gentle waltz with gentle choral vocals before deteriorating into a "family" gypsy fest. This is just inexplicably crazy music! How does one even envision this kind of music (except by having been exposed to a lot of Jewish, Eastern European, or traditional celebration music or klezmer, Some of the bands from my limited experience that come to mind when hearing this stuff include FARMERS MARKET, HUMBLE GRUMBLE, ESTRADASPHERE, MAJOR PARKINSON, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys, and the Cardiacs. I feel as if I'm listening to a peak into the terrifying moments of being a boy lost in Coney Island. A little unsettling! (14/15)

7. "My Ass Is on Fire" (7:47) opens with what feels and sounds like a funked up excursion by some heavy metal dudes. But then, at the one-minute mark, the vocalist enters amid a fairly quiet, empty space, to sing in a fairly "normal," pleasant manner. But, Fake! It's all a diversionary ruse as the music turns quickly back to some very eclectically integrated and synthesized heavy music. The self-talk in the fourth minute is hilarious--a parody take on Robert DeNiro's Travis talk in the mirror during Taxi Driver. I'm still not sure what caused the singer's ass to catch fire--or even if it's a digestive track reaction to super-spicey food (I don't think so)--but I have to admit it's far more interesting and entertaining--and far less infantile-feeling than most of Frank Zappa's potty humor (though that seventh minute of cacophony is a bit over the top). And then the Mr. Bungle political compaign add at the end! Will this band's sophisticated imagination and ballsy courage never stop? (13.25/15)

8. "The Girls of Porn" (6:42) a song about exactly what the title says--and the accompanying exercises in self-gratification that often go along with such exposure. Very graphic and confessional. Great funked up music. Incredibly entertaining if one can get past the self-conscious embarrassment of the explicit details. (9/10)

9. "Love Is a Fist" (6:01) opens with a metallic KING CRIMSON sound and feel but then quickly turns klezmer and classic heavy metal and avant garde (those sax solos!) Crazy craziness over fairly "tame" metal foundation and chords (though it all feels contrived to be very much a lampoon of the "real" stuff). (8.75/10)

10. "Dead Goon" (10:02) Despite some amazing bass and rhythm guitar play, the first two minutes of this HUMBLE GRUMBLE-like song offer very little to engage or excite me. The Swedish Chef mumble-jumble words serve to express the title's protagonist very well, but then the lyrics become clear, English--is this a dialogue? More gypsy/klezmer like rhythms over the awesome fretless bass play of the awesome Trevor Dunn (Of late from JOHN ZORN and SECRET CHIEFS 3). The more sedate, cemetery-like seventh and eighth minutes lose me a little--though it could be great fodder for a B-Movie horror flick. (17/20)

Total Time: 73:15

Excuse me if words fail me: I have just had my macaroni squeezed!

A/five stars; a minor masterpiece of truly progressive (though also eclectic) rock music--an album that should be in the possession of every self-proclaimed lover of progressive rock music.

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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